310 E. Prentiss St., Iowa City, IA 52240
QISA (4, 4, 3.5, 4), $8-$18, Vegan
Way too often a restaurant aims for one adjective only to take additional unwanted modifiers. One might go for “fancy” and become “snooty” and “pretentious”. Another might go for “homey” and take on “old” and “worn”. Yet another might go for “comfort” and end up with “greasy” and “heart attack.”
When a restaurant squarely hits its target, you have to pay it respect. Trumpet Blossom goes for “rustic” and hits it dead on.
Everything about Trumpet Blossom speaks “rustic,” from the wooden benches and chairs to the hanging 19th century wooden spoons and gourds, antique cabinets, paisley quilted cloth napkins, and beverages in Ball jars. Roy Orbison crooning over the loudspeaker cinched the image for me.
“Sweet dream baby, how long must I dream?”
Trumpet Blossom serves a wide variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, from specialty cocktails like the Kombucha Gin & Tonic to smoothies and coffee drinks. I ordered the Cobra Verde, a citrus, ginger, and green coffee energy drink made by Wake Up Iowa City, a local organic coffee company. The beverage was bright and citrusy with a slight ginseng earthiness. It was an acquired taste to be sure, but I enjoyed its bright notes. I likely wouldn’t drink a Cobra Verde by itself, but it was an excellent accompaniment to the meal.
The soup of the day was a mushroom cauliflower rice soup that was hearty with plenty of umami flavor and made me feel like a child at home on a cold fall day. It was exactly the kind of soup you imagined your mother making for you…if only your mother had made homemade vegan soups. It was rustic plain and simple.
“Crying, over you. Crying, over you.”
The house red bean and oat veggie burger was served on grilled toast, which gave the sandwich a wonderful hearty crunch that balanced the softness of the burger. The burger was topped by a maple-bourbon BBQ aioli, caramelized onion, greens, and a pickled veggie slaw. The flavor of pickle inherent in most of the dishes brought to mind sunlight streaming through the windows, picnic baskets, and weekend mornings. In other words, it spoke of all things rustic.
“I’m going back some day, come what may to Blue Bayou.”
The spiced bread pudding I had for dessert was not the best bread pudding I have ever had, but it was very good and it was certainly original, tasting somewhere between a standard bread pudding and a spiced quick bread. It rounded out the, dare I say it, “rusticness” of the entire experience.
That Trumpet Blossom is an organic vegan restaurant may seem incongruous with its old-fashioned image. Yet, what is more in touch with our rustic roots and historic sensibilities than locally sourced vegetables free from modern pesticides?
I am eager to get back there to try out some of their other creative dishes, such as pizza with tofu-cheese and sausage style seitan, tempeh reubens, Iowa polenta cakes with maple-bourbon BBQ sauce, and roasted garlic tofu kabobs with ginger peanut sauce. With luck, I’ll get there on one of their live music nights. Or maybe, I’ll be there on a quiet weekday afternoon, warming myself from the wintry snow outside. Either way, it will undoubtedly feel like a big bowl of home.