Restaurant Review: Café Blossom

Café Blossom
466 Columbus Avenue
(between 82nd Street and 83rd Street)
Upper West Side, Manhattan

Vegiboys Rating (3/4)

The Blossom restaurant group has four NYC venues: the classic Blossom Restaurant in Chelsea, newcomer fast-food joint Blossom Du Jour, and the more modern Café Blossom.

And Café Blossom certainly has a modern feel; the dining room is a sleekly decorated industrial space, very appropriate for fine dining. Larger tables are available at the back of the restaurant, but most are designed for small parties of two of three (and there is even the option for solo diners to eat at counter seating).

Service is pleasant and mostly strong, though we did encounter a few moments of staff confusion: from our vantage point near the door, we watched a forlorn potential patron wait an inordinate amount of time before she was acknowledged. After ordering, we also had a runner bring out our entrées within seconds (the plates being meant for another table). Once recognized, the mistake was quickly rectified though, and our server was very attentive overall.

To drink, Brian went with a sweet raspberry fizz soda, and I chose a chai shake (which had the delicious taste of liquid cake).

We went with the autumn sweet potato rolls as one of our appetizers. Although they’re careful on the menu to mention that it’s a raw dish, we still found the name misleading; what we received did not in fact contain any potato, and was actually better seasonally characterized by summer (a sort of Asian-influenced roll of carrot, avocado, jícama, pepper, scallion, and coconut noodles with an almond ginger sauce). Our second appetizer, the shepard’s portobello, was more predictable but delicious; a breaded portobello cap formed the base of a miniature pie of parsnip, oyster mushroom, and a vegan cream, all topped by a frisée salad.

Among the entrées, the weiner schnitzel jumped out at me as an uncommon dish to find in the vegetarian world, so I had to try it. The breaded seitan schnitzel was fun and mimicked the real thing well. Mashes of parsnip and cauliflower (of which I would have liked more on the plate) and braised red cabbage (of which I received far too much) were all covered in a beautifully sweet port wine sauce. It was a unique treat, and not something that could easily be recreated at home.

Brian’s pearl barley mushroom risotto was more easily replicated, but also more delicious. Wild mushrooms mixed into barley grains made for a great risotto interpretation, with a lemon truffle oil and a cashew cream giving it a rich, buttery flavor. Fried capers topped the risotto, providing a nice contrasting texture and flavor.

As a dessert, we shared a great vegan parfait with a chocolate mousse and a cashew purée blended with nuts and figs, which together with espresso, ended the meal on an excellent note.

Everything arrived with a beautiful presentation and in significant quantity (and we enjoyed all the tastes we encountered). At $55 each though, the price was high, and in terms of atmosphere and food, the original Blossom may be the better value. Overall though, Café Blossom does not disappoint, and is a good vegi-fine dining option for the Upper West Side crowd.

Food (3/4)

Atmosphere & Service

Value (2.5/4)

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