Consciousness-Blossoms is the kind of restaurant that isn’t satisfied with just capturing your stomach. That stuff is child’s play. Their intention, according to their website, is to nourish your heart and soul as well. That’s called Chinmoy’s play. How do they do it? It all starts with healthy vegetarian meals. Everything in the place is made without meat. There are a large number of completely vegan items as well. Once they lure you in with the promise of delicious meat-free food, Consciousness-Blossoms brings down the proverbial hammer by serving up side dishes of harmony, joy and inspiration. All of this, the restaurant, the concept of feeding body and soul, are brought on by the teachings of meditator Sri Chinmoy.
If it wasn’t for the mediation aspect, I’d say those are loud boasts the restaurant website makes. I mean seriously, my heart and soul? Really? But we all know meditators don’t raise their voices. They are calm and cool the whole night through. These boasts are like the Heather Fuls of the boasting world. She was the girl who sat at the front of the room during my third grade year. When she spoke, she whispered. Everyone in the class immediately quieted down when she was called on. We all wanted to hear what the soft one had to say. No matter how you frame Consciousness-Blossoms words one thing was for sure, they had me intrigued. So it was an easy choice when it came time to select where I would spend my birthday celebrating. The C-B would be where its at.
Since everything was vegetarian and most items were or could be made vegan, choosing what to eat seemed a bit daunting. After our waitress announced that one of the soups of the day was the Moroccan Peanut Soup, the decision became easy. I had heard that the Moroccan Peanut Soup was sort of like the Holy Grail of soupland. Who would pass that up? It only took one bite for me to enthusiastically agree. To say this soup was good would be like saying Lebron James is a decent basketball player. UNDERSTATEMENT! It was so peanutty and spicy with excellent underlying flavors flowing throughout. This birthday meal was off to a great start.
Moroccan Peanut Stew… the kind of thing that makes angels cry
For the main course I decided to get the Tempeh BBQ Sandwich with a side of non-creamy coleslaw. J-Fur ordered the tofu scramble (yawn) while father-in-law (FIL) ordered the Neatloaf and mother-in-law (MIL) couldn’t resist the Harvest Burger. One-by-one the dishes arrived. First up, J-Fur’s tofu scramble. While it may have seemed from all the heckling I sent her way that I didn’t want to try the scramble, that was just an act. I grabbed a spoonful nearly before she did. I’ve had my fair share of scrambles over the years so I can be considered, at the very least, a half expert. The Consciousness-Blossoms version was good stuff. Not the most amazing I’ve had, but it was much more flavorful and exciting than any of the ones that have come from my kitchen.
The Tofu Scramble…a pretty good one at that
Next to arrive was my BBQ Tempeh Sandwich. I was ready to go. Two pretty good dishes had started us on the right path, it was time for some more. As I prepared to sink my teeth deep into the sandwich, a rush of wind blew by my face. I’d like to write that the wind knocked my sandwich right out of my hand, that it took it somewhere far away where mediocre fare can’t flatten an otherwise terrific meal. But, it didn’t. The wind passed by without nary a glance back and so my food continued unobstructed to my mouth. Such a sad sandwich. It was something I could make better in my own kitchen. It was too much tomato (which is difficult to do since I LOVE tomato) and very little sauce. The tempeh was nothing out of the ordinary, no secret spices or flavorings. It was, in the words of the well-versed Tender Branson, an “extraordinarily average sandwich.”
My Extraordinarily Average Tempeh BBQ
My MIL tossed me over some bits of her Harvest Burger (made from brown rice, mushrooms, soy and rolled oats). It had a nice flavor with a hint of earthy sweetness. I probably should’ve gone with that instead. Meanwhile, on my FIL’s side of the table, he was having a hard time with his Neatloaf. It was rich. Way too rich for his nearly-vegan-except-when-he-falls-off-the-wagon-and-eats-a-Cuban-Sandwich-blood. He was only able to eat about two-fifths of it before throwing his napkin down and calling it a day. He packed up the leftovers to take with him for later meals (albeit all in small increments). I only mention this because he sent it to the kitchen to be packaged by the staff and when it returned there seemed to be considerably less of it. We began concocting stories about what happened to the rest of the Neatloaf.
The Neatloaf…Rich Upon Arrival
The concept of Consciousness-Blossoms and its all vegetarian fare got me in the door. Unfortunately the food wasn’t enough to keep me returning. I expected everything to be amazing, to wow me, to pull the WaterCourse wool over my eyes. But it didn’t. While the soup and the scramble seemed to strike gold and the Harvest Burger wasn’t bad, the tempeh really doused my enthusiasm. I can get a lot “safer” and more satisfying meals closer to home (Palm Harbor isn’t exactly in my backyard). I’d say Consciousness-Blossoms did a decent job feeding my body, but it fell short in capturing my heart and soul.
Palm Harbor was definitely a bit of new country. This was my second visit in my eight years living in the area. Because of that, I paired my Consciousness-Blossoms visit with Racing Glaciers’ new single “New Country.” It starts a bit slow, purely magical. Then, when the chorus arrives, everything sort of explodes into canyon sized pieces. It surrounds you, engulfs your being, and pulls you into the song in a way that few songs do. While the song itself tells the story of escape and that is the sound it crafts, the listener will have nowhere to turn. Escape is futile for them. “New Country” is the first taste of the band’s new EP which is due out in early February.