Thursday, June 5, 2014

A New Vegan Restaurant "Blossoms" On Carmine Street!

By: Anne M. Raso

Carmine Street is one of the West Village streets that is so beloved not only because of his history in Italian immigration and culture, but because its buildings have basically looked the same since they were built around 1900. Only the storefronts change frequently thanks to the staggering rents. It has always been a mecca for restaurants, and one of the best is the vegan Blossom On Carmine. It's an intimate space with exposed brick walls, dim lighting and an outdoor seating area. I chose a table right between the outdoor and indoor space so that I could have the best of both worlds. Best of all, the prices range from inexpensive to moderately expensive (for instance, appetizers cost $5-$9)

Many traditional eaters believe that vegan versions of classic dishes just don't have the same "kick" and flavor, but Blossom On Carmine proves those diners wrong. My dining partner and I chose the Quinoa Salad ($11 for a small size, $16 for a large size) as a "small plate" to share. We got the large size and it really was a meal in itself for both of us. Not only was the quinoa cooked to the perfect slightly firm consistency but it featured a lovely, light poblano dressing. The quinoa was tossed with black beans, roasted sweet corn, diced bell peppers, watercress, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and guacamole. I would go out on a limb to say that this is one of the most flavorful all-natural, vegan salads I have ever eaten on the eatery-cluttered island of Manhattan, and that is saying a mouthful!
Brussels Sprouts
We then ordered two lovely sides--Sautéed Brussels Sprouts ($7), which was about a one-cup portion sautéed with garlic, and shallots and the unusual Ginger/Horseradish Rubbed Japanese Eggplant ($9), which was two very large spears, glazed with Kabayaki Sauce. Both were highly satisfying and flavorful without being overly spicy and I have to point out that at any time Blossom has at least eight pure vegetable sides to choose from, including golden fries that are becoming legendary.
As our entrees, we shared the Risotto ($19) which is served with shitake, trumpet and cremini mushrooms and the Au Poivre ($22) which is actually seitan steak served with peppercorn gravy, grilled asparagus and garlic French fries. Both portions were above average in size and I have to say that when Blossom makes a creamy vegan sauce, you can't tell it from the traditional recipe. I was blown away by how creamy the peppercorn gravy was on the tender seitan steak--you would swear you were eating the classic version of the sauce made with tons of heavy cream but Blossom substitutes it with healthy coconut milk that gets mixed with vegetable roux and Veganaise! The risotto was as good as any I have had in northern Italy or any of the city's famous upscale Italian eateries! The asparagus tasted like they had just been picked at a nearby farm an hour earlier (and probably had been)! My friend Gail said that the garlic fries were some of the best she has ever had--I loved the golden crunch on the outside and the raw garlic pieces on them, not to mention the lovely contrast of white vinegar and sea salt.
Ginger/Horseradish Rubbed Japanese Eggplant
The Orange Creme Brulee ($10) was our dessert of choice after asking the wait staff which one they thought was the healthiest. It's made with fresh squeezed orange juice and coconut cream and was lighter than the traditional recipe for crème brulee. The slightly tangy orange taste was the perfect way to end a meal that was extremely filling but healthy all the way.
Orange Creme Brulee
Folks with gluten free, nut free and soy free diets will be pleased to know that all items that meet their dietary needs are marked as such on the menu, making it easy for them to order. The owners say that all their offerings are completely free of animal products and are organic and/or as "local" as possible. I will be going back to Blossom. I loved the mellow atmosphere, friendly service, and diversity of dishes that range from Modern American to Mediterranean to Asian with a twist. They also have wonderful vegetable, tea and fruit juice-based soft drinks and cocktails that our out of the ordinary!

Blossom On Carmine
43 Carmine Street
New York, NY 10014
(646) 438-9939
Cuisine: Vegetarian (Vegan)

Cafe Blossom on Urbanspoon

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