By Veronica Chavez

Photo by Veronica Chavez.

In a big city like Manhattan, it’s relatively easy to find vegan food. There are sandwich shops, hummus palaces, specialty diners, health food havens, and the occasional Mexican joint that happens to also serve seitan.

In 2005, Blossom Restaurant opened in Chelsea and provided yet another option for New York plant-eaters. Blossom doesn’t just craft vegan-friendly options for people though, they create artful dishes that make vegans rejoice and meat eaters forever abandon their misconceptions about vegan food (at least the ones I’ve brought to Blossom have).

Pamela Blackwell and Ronen Seri, two vegans who felt they could only find restaurants in their neighborhood that accommodated their vegan needs but hardly excited them, decided to open Blossom. After much success at their flagship in Chelsea, they opened three other locations: Cafe Blossom, V-note, and Blossom on Carmine (a small plates and wine bar).

I’ve been to all of Blossom’s locations, and the Chelsea restaurant remains my favorite. Candle-lit tables and soft music produce a nice ambience for an intimate dinner, and the staff is consistently very knowledgeable and friendly.

During this visit, I enjoyed three courses: Cape Cod Cakes, Port Wine Seitan, and an apple cobbler for dessert.

Cape Cod Cakes

Photo courtesy of Alex Etling.

Having been thoroughly impressed with Blossom’s Mushroom “Calamari” appetizer during a previous visit, I decided to give their other seafood inspired appetizer a go. A combination of hiziki seaweed and tofu, the Cape Cod Cakes were a delightful start to the dinner.

The seaweed acted as a great substitute for crab, since it’s salty and slightly fishy-tasting. The tofu gave the small cakes a nice, soft texture that resembled that of croquettes. This dish would not have been complete without an excellent tartar sauce, of which Blossom succeeded in making a vegan-friendly version. The dish was comprised of three small cakes, which at first seemed like an extremely small portion, but ended up being a satisfying amount that nipped my hunger just enough as I waited for my entree.

Port Wine Seitan

Photo courtesy of Alex Etling.

If I was the type of person that craved steak, I think that this seitan dish would do a pretty decent job at satisfying that desire. Smothered in a sweet red port wine, the seitan in this dish is flavorful and has the texture of medium-rare meat—juicy and soft. The dish also includes white mushrooms, a tempura onion, garlic mashed potatoes, and sauteed spinach, all of which complement the seitan very well. The generous serving of seitan and the filling mashed potatoes make this a gratifying entree that left me feeling full but with no regrets.

Apple Cobbler

Photo by Veronica Chavez.

Blossom has a great selection of desserts including tiramisu, lemon cheesecake in a mixed berry reduction, and chocolate ganache. They also have an apple cobbler, which ended up being my choice of indulgence. Unlike other restaurants that serve apple-pie inspired desserts, the size of this dish appears tiny. However, the tightly layered apple pastry actually produces a decent amount of flaky pieces. Although I’m a fan of coconut milk-based ice cream, I was happy to find out that Blossom pairs the pastry with one that is cashew-based and truly tastes like vanilla, not coconut-vanilla.

All in all, this ended up being yet another successful outing to Blossom. People who are used to the monstrous portions usually given at restaurants nowadays may be a bit put off at first by the restaurant’s modest helpings, but will most likely find that they feel energized after their meal in addition to fully satisfied.