For a long while I thought this place was called Blossom Lotus, which is kind of bland and a bit confusing (lotus blossom, surely?), but a close inspection of the menu reveals its true name: Blossoming Lotus. This is a much more satisfying name, poetic even. Both are preferable to Vegetarian Food which a big yellow banner shouts up and down the street.
This is our first daytime outing. We are having lunch with Ashley, Paul and the Nedsky. Ashley and Paul have been dog-park friends for a long time (Ned is a more recent acquaintance — but not by that much, I realise — 5 ? Already?) They are the rare and valuable kind of dog park friends who talk about things other than dogs and who get your jokes.
It is also important that our dogs are compatible. Both are medium-sized, black, and obsessed by found objects (ours: balls, theirs: sticks). They are very relaxed dogs who ignore each other amicably. The only fly in the ointment of our relationship is that they are vegetarian. We have been wanting to inflict the quest on them for a while but we had to wait for the alignment of a decent (or at least plausible) vegetarian eatery and a time slot to suit young Ned. So, Saturday lunchtime at Blossoming Lotus it is. Will it be open at lunchtime, I wonder? Of course, Strop laughs in the face of my doubts.
The place is indeed open, if not exactly rushed off its feet, and there is a very pleasant smell on entry. It reminds me just how hungry I am. There is a big display of hot food at the front which is targeted at the takeaway market.
Blossoming Lotus brands itself as a Thai vegetarian restaurant. It comes from the same Buddhist vegetarian tradition as Green Gourmet but it is less hung up on the whole meat analogy thing. There is a lot of nattering going on so it takes a while for us to settle down and peruse the menu. Paul and Ashley have spied a couple of things at the front that take their fancy, along with the menu items.
We order Golden Parcels (hard to go past with that name) and Curry Puffs to start, following these up with an eggplant dish (I was too busy having fun to take notes, and unfortunately the Blossoming Lotus does not have a website – which is where I usually go to check what we actually had to eat), something with black bean, and a pork analogue. One of these was Number 37, but I have no idea which one. We also order fried rice for young Ned to coincide with the entrees.
The young man taking our order is very friendly and patient in the face of our confusion and indecision. Ned occupies himself with some urgent colouring-in so he doesn’t have to put up with grown-up distractions. He is going to a birthday party after lunch apparently and needs to get in the zone. The birthday boy is apparently called Nirage (I know it doesn’t look right to me either), and the present is a Hero Factory (no idea – Lego apparently). Ned makes me feel very old sometimes.
The entrees are crispy and golden. The fried rice is huge and unusually delicious, so we all have to help Ned out with it. When the mains come they are good too, with the eggplant proving to be the crowd favourite. The food succeeds at being fresh and tasty, and doesn’t panic too much about not being meat. And there is lots of it.
During the meal Ned takes great delight in pointing out to Paul and Ashley, that most of Strop’s vocabulary consists of bad words that are banned in his house. It’s as if their nice vegetarian family has suddenly found itself sitting down to eat with a cannibal. The offending words are apparently hate, stupid and, my personal favourite, idiot. I sympathise with Strop, we are currently discussing the election, and it’s hard to see how you can carry on a conversation without those words unless you are going to use really bad words.
So all in all it was a fun lunch, and Blossoming Lotus turns out to be a far tastier vego experience than Green Gourmet. Next up is the Japanese joint next door.