We spent Saturday in NYC and got to spend some time with our city folk and managed to tackle the Blossom pyramid of vegan eateries. Above is Josh and our soon-to-be brother-in-law Rick at right, Being Tall in Chelsea.
After lunch at Blossom, dessert at Cocoa V, and a peek at Blossom Du Jour, we learned a few things:
The faux meat style offerings at both Blossom and the new "Shrewd Food" vegan fast food cafe, Blossom Du Jour, was not appealing. We've had a really memorable dinner at Blossom, but during the day, service was slacking and we had to ask three times for a drink menu. Our food was a high school student's version of vegan lunch. Du Jour's menu looked a little better, with some raw and healthier, fresher options.
They do however, excel at vegan chocolate and confections at Cocoa V. Check out Josh's "Vegan Butterfinger":
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I had the Cocoa V truffle and got a chocolate chip cookie and Yes Please candy bar to go. Josh tried the Pistapple at the recommendation of a reader and was all about it. He talked about the Vegan Butterfinger all day long.
We explored Chelsea Market for a bit with Rick and Rachel and ended up buying some fun kitchen stuff before we were off to Astor Place to poke around at the extensive and impressive selection of liquor and wine. I noticed that Oak, one of my favorite boutiques, was two blocks away. I had to try on a bunch of hats and coats.
Then we met our Brooklynite expat Jason for dinner and drinks at Blossom's new vegan wine and tapas bar, V-Note. We started with a carafe of Pizzolato Cabernet Sauvignon '09 that should have been a set-up to a great meal. It was one of the better Cabs I've had in a long time and went down easy. Check out the tough review here at Organic Wine Review. Organic wine gets a harsh hand, but lately I've had some amazing bottles.
Was this fellow running for his supper? I imagined so.
V-Note opened about two weeks ago. Since their menu is nearly identical to their other restaurants, I expected the food to be flawless. They should have already mastered these dishes a long time ago, right?
We began with 3 appetizers: Zucchini Rollatini, the Crab Cakes, and a special, Sweet Potato Gnocchi in a Cashew Cream Sauce:
The Zucchini rollups were okay, though nothing about the plate stuck with me. Having been to vegan restaurants where I exclaim and my eyes light up at each bite, I kept waiting to be excited about something. I ended up drinking more wine than usual because the food was lackluster.
The Crab Cakes made with tofu were the best of the bunch. I could make these quite easily at home and found no difficulty with stopping at one, which means a lot. If I go back for a second forkful, it's because something is truly special. And I didn't.
Josh enjoys the occasional plate of gnocchi. One of the best gnocchi dishes in town is right next to his family's place, so it's a dish he knows inside and out and expects a lot from. The vegan gnocchi at V-Note was not pillow, instead he found it doughy and off.
For our entrees, the server recommended the Pistachio and Pepper Dusted Tofu, raving about the sauce. It ended up not having much flavor at all. Still, it was far more interesting than my dish.
I chose the Vegetable Plate, expecting some creativity from the kitchen, but all I got was a round of Spiced Quinoa and some assorted vegetables that were cooked in oil and had very little seasoning. I usually swear by Vegetable Plates, but this was not worth $18. I did enjoy the slightly sweet, almost creamy quinoa.
The most impressive dish by far was Jason's Seafood Risotto. The colors were great, the texture of the risotto was bang on, and the variety of mushrooms raised interest in each bite.
I was hoping for a Tapas Menu, and the server was kind enough to show us the Late Night Tapas Bar Menu that starts at 10:30. It was kind of dull, with your basic bruschetta and hummus plates.
We actually put in a call to Candle 79 (a few blocks away) to see if they could handle 3 for dessert, but they were packed. So we settled on the Chocolate Ganache Tart (which is where their talent lies, as chocolatiers) and some coffee.
Would I go back? I would not go out of my way. If I lived nearby, perhaps for a salad at lunch. There are so many extraordinary vegan restaurants in NYC that teach me things about food.
Even with some letdowns, we returned with plenty of new treasures and are excited to get back in our own kitchen. We're already planning a Fall-Themed Vegan Cocktail Party at Vedge Loft...