Monday, May 7, 2012

Pea Cakes Galore at Cafe Blossom

It had been too long since VM and I had been to any of the Blossom Restaurants; finding ourselves in the area, we decided to dine at the original Cafe Blossom on the Upper West Side.  You know what that means: pea cakes, our favorite appetizer in the universe!

The atmosphere of the restaurant had only improved since our last visit, most notably as the result of a gorgeous wall mural.

Neither of us remembered the entree offerings being so seitan heavy, so we decided to go a little unorthodox for our meal.  We started by sharing the Quinoa Salad: "black beans, quinoa, roasted sweet corn, diced peppers, watercress, toasted pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, mango guacamole, poblano dressing [AND CILANTRO]".  Besides the unadvertised weed, this salad was great: cool, hearty, and robust.

They had unfortunately run out of my favorite bilberry juice at brunch, so I had a hibiscus iced tea instead; VM went with a pinot grigio.

For "dinner" we decided to go tapas style and ordered a bunch of starters to share.  Of course, Black Eyed Pea Cake(s): "yukon potato, red pepper coulis, chipotle aioli" that we fawned over so obviously that our neighboring diners couldn't resist ordering as well.  Note: Blossom on 9th serves one large pea cake, while Cafe Blossom serves two smaller; they are equally irresistable.

Lest you doubt the sincerity of our collective love for the pea cakes, rest assured: we were fully equipped.

Also, the Mushroom Ravioli: "fresh oregano, truffle butter".  I'm old school and not usually a fan of  any pasta that doesn't include marinara, but these raviolis were a decadent indulgence filled with extremely flavorful mushrooms.

Finally, the Mushroom Pizza Bites: "crushed cherry tomatoes, garlic, vegan mozzarella, fresh herbs".  A word about these bites: YUM!  I don't know if it was the softness of the focaccia or simply the melange of familar flavors and textures, but these tasted like the Sicilian pizza of my Long Island youth.  Sigh; my love affair with Daiya continues.  The small salad served with it was dressed with a light, creamy dressing- a nice complement.

You'd think we would have been full at this point and you'd be right.  But our waiter was kind enough give us some time before we tackled dessert.  They do carry Lula's ice cream (although they curiously refer to the drumstick/chicken leg flavor as "nutty buddy"), but I couldn't resist ordering the butterfinger shake in the hopes that it was identical to the one we covet at Terri.  VM was less gluttonous dubious and went with black coffee, but I took one for the team to accompany my chocolate-drizzled chocolate chip cookie.

I am happy to confirm that the shake is the same!  So nice to know I can now consume vasts amounts of these shakes in two different areas of Manhattan; while you're reading this, I'm out buying larger pants.  Although served gorgeously, the cookie wasn't as fabulous as I would have expected.  By then I was beyond stuffed, so it went home to OD.

As far as the service is concerned, the hostess was efficient but barely welcoming.  Our pleasant waiter, Zachary, more than made up for it, as did the diligent and equally friendly bus staff.  The woman who runs the beverage and dessert bar was endearing, as she served both with flourish.  These touches are never lost on me; it's nice to be made to feel like the staff is glad you're there.

In closing, a word about the men's restroom. You might not be surprised to learn that I've never been in the men's room at Cafe Blossom (perhaps anywhere?) before, but I've been told by OD that it's quite a tight squeeze in there. On this particular evening, as the ladies' room was out of order, I found myself reminded of this shared observation as I immediately walked into the sink upon entry. As my toe hit the cabinet with my first step, I managed a tight turn to close the door behind me. In doing so, I heard a familiar noise that I couldn't place. A split second later I made the connection and checked my shoulder. Yup, it was the automatic soap dispenser. In addition to the oddity of the unusually cramped entry, someone had made the decision to mount the 4" wide dispenser on the wall in the middle of the foot of space between the sink and the door, coming in at around 4'3" (the estimated height of my shoulder)- with no consideration to the reality of the resulting foamy arm syndrome. Lest you think my diminutive height had something to do with this result, I confirmed: judging by the dried pile of soap on the floor directly below, I was not the evening's first victim. Gentleman, beware.


  1. Gorgeous! Those pea cakes look amazing, I'd like to take a stab at making them...any ideas in terms of recipe? I'll make up my own version since I've never had them,but wondered what you thought since you actually ate them!

    The bit about the men's room was funny, too.

  2. Thanks, Dawn- I'm no chef, but from what I can gather it's basically mashed yukon with black eyed peas, bits of bell pepper, and onion. But, I've no idea how it stays together, or how the outside is so gloriously crispy while the center remains creamy. Magic?

  3. Yikes! The pea cakes have that "eat-me-now" look to them. Of course I want some.

  4. That looks to me like the best appetizer ever...and one I would never be able to just share either!


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