Trumpet Blossom Cafe
310 East Prentiss Street
Iowa City, IA 52240
Official Grand Opening: May 19
The mantra of “less is more” is today often looked at by the American restaurant scene in an insulting manner; with caloric, larger-than-life portions of food dominating food menus nationwide. There are however, a few bright lights that stand out from the crowd, that offer up some light, healthy alternatives.Trumpet Blossom Cafe, a new all-vegan restaurant that opened April 18 fills the unique and health-conscious void left in the wake of the closing of The Red Avocado after that business closed last January. Occupying the space formerly held by The Hideaway Restaurant and Bar on the outskirts of downtown directly behind The Vine, it promises to rekindle the love that it brought in Red Avocado’s loyal patrons year-over-year.
The changes that resulted from the transition from The Hideaway to Trumpet Blossom are stark. Gone is much of the dark, bar-like atmosphere; replaced by farmhouse-inspired details. In the former billiards area, a small wooden stage now stands, the host to small special events held each week. Country-style wooden tables flanked with patterned tablecloths accent the large wooden bar that remained from The Hideaway and a few homemade accents fairly well. The biggest change from The Hideaway is the amount of lighting in the new restaurant. Numerous chandeliers illuminate the large, open space and the large windows aren’t covered up. The new light colored walls bring a more refreshed vibe to the restaurant. Trumpet Blossom truly resembles a small town family restaurant where a fast paced dining experience goes out the window in favor for slower paced, “savor the flavor” style. A country style seating area is available at the front of the restaurant during peak dinner hours. The restaurant also features Ball mason jars as water glasses, homemade and reusable napkins that add to the local flair and eclecticity.
After we were seated and were finished combing through the menu (we went during dinner, but lunch and Happy Hour menus are also available), we opted to order the small size of the Pasta tossed with seasonal veggies and lemon herb butter ($11), the Grilled Tofu and Arugula with a side of buckwheat corn cakes with peach relish ($15) and a side of Steamed Greens with Lemon Roasted Garlic ($5).
Although initially worried about the small portion of the tossed pasta, the size proved to be just the right amount. Bathed in warm olive oil and drizzled with the perfect blend of savory garlic and parsley, the pasta was simple but well executed and a lack of a meat, say chicken, wasn’t at all noticeable.
Next up was the Grilled Tofu and Arugula with the side of buckwheat corn cakes. Although we ordered the regular portion size, there was much to be desired as the grilled tofu, though flavorful and resembling soft white chicken meat, lacked in comparison to the heaping pile of less than flavorful arugula. None the less, the tofu was well done and was slightly crispy on the edges, adding a great crunch when paired with the greens. Along with the tofu, another bright side to this offering was the corn cakes with peach relish. Warm and flaky, the two cakes were small but filling, which helped make up for the lack of grilled tofu. Oaty overall taste worked well with the relish. Made simply as well, with fresh red hints and a well-seasoned, sweetened taste with green peppers, onion and tomato. One happy surprise with this entree was the inclusion of two pieces of cold wheat bread. Although appearing to be locally produced, the bread was delivered without spread and sadly, was too dry for our liking alone. When dipped in the peach relish however, we were immediately satisfied. We concluded too that the portions just could not justify the pricing of the meal as we found ourselves devouring the corn cakes and tofu only to be left with disappointing, bland arugula.
We were hoping to find Trumpet Blossom’s “less is more” style a welcome change, but a more expensive than expected menu and incomplete portions prevented us from doing so. The overall customer service was middle ground for restaurant hospitality standards, yet we expected more from a higher end establishment that emphasizes local flair.