For many of us who hail from the western hemisphere, brunch is almost sacred. It’s a meal used for healing and reflecting, for gathering to start a new day, or perhaps just an excuse to say you did something before coming back home and taking a nice afternoon nap. Whatever the cause, it’s important for a place to get brunch right.
The Blossom, which opened recently in the rapidly-developing 1844 near Heyi Avenue Shopping Center, brands itself as an “all day brunch cafe,” something that certainly aroused our interest.
The shop is an offshoot of the same brand that gave us the intricately decorated coffee shop and current selfie capitol of Ningbo, Maan Coffee. So it came as a bit of surprise and relief that the shop is essentially one big open room with loads of natural light and space. At the back of the cafe is a semi-open kitchen which allows the smell of brunch, approximately bacon, sugar and coffee, to billow out into the seating area. The front of the cafe is lined with French doors which can be opened when the weather permits to allow fresh air to pour in. Seats along the window face a large swath of grass and the Yao River for one of the more pleasant views in the city.
The food itself measures up for the most part. The salad was light and pleasant, filled with fresh vegetables and coated with a light tangy dressing and ground parmesan cheese. The full breakfast was certainly full, with no less than nine items crammed into the cast iron skillet, The Blossom’s preferred serving dish. All the staples were there, but nearly everything left us wanting a bit more. The prospect of Korean-spiced home fries was exciting, but the potatoes on the plate lacked a great deal of flavor. Great idea, not the best execution.
Though not traditionally a brunch item, chili cheese fries are a welcome sight at any table. These particular chili cheese fries were actually not bad, though if it’s something truly American The Blossom is after then they’ll need to “beef up” their chili and cheese usage.
The banana pancakes, however, are highly recommended. Cooked in a cast iron skillet, they’re rich, crispy on the bottom and the right balance of sweet and salty/buttery. Though we can’t speak to the other pancakes on the menu (Dutch custard, strawberry and a few others), it’d be safe to assume they’re also equally satisfying.
On the beverage end of things the restaurant has a good but fairly typical selection of European beers and what look to be some rather fresh and fruity soda drinks. There are also a wide variety of fresh juices and “real ades.” Although the lemonade could’ve used a bit more sweetness, it was still fresh, ice cold and refreshing.
Overall, The Blossom rises above “they have brunch.” It’s got a respectable menu with lots to choose from and just enough creativity to keep it interesting while taking care of the basics. It’s a nice relaxed place to sit with friendly service and good eats: about all one could ask for, no matter what purpose a particular brunch is serving.