The Blossom is back
An old favorite is back. And it's pretty good, too.
Unless you've been trapped back in the 1930s when Blossom Deli enjoyed its first heyday, you know by now that a group of local investors recently rescued a Charleston institution from extinction when they purchased the longtime hot spot that Soho's chef/owner Bill Sohovich also ran for 16 years before closing this past fall.
Once the news broke, people cheered, a new menu was debated and reunion plans were made. But could these new folks really bring back Blossom's magic?
Well, it will never be the same place, but I can accept that. I enjoyed many a good lunch there, but my fondest memories were the exquisite dinners during Bill's reign that I consider some of my best ever.
But who's to say the new crew can't create a few new memories?
They're already off to a good start. The place re-opened to a groundswell of support - it has more than 1,500 Facebook friends and counting - and early reviews are mostly positive. Including this one. I've already dropped by a few times for lunch (had to try several things before passing judgment, of course) and have been pleased more often than not.
It's good, just not great - at least not yet.
First the good stuff. The new guys have retained the restaurant's classic decor, and the menu offers a nice mix of original Blossom favorites (hello, patty melt!), Sohovich signature dishes (toasted deli sandwiches, fresh salads, hot soups) and even a few new items.
I struggled mightily over what to order on my first visit before nostalgia got the best of me. But my memories go back only to the Sohovich years, when my lunch of choice was a piping-hot, piled-high Dinsmore, Reuben or some similarly awesome sandwich.
I wanted to savor that same taste, so the Rachael was my best shot. (I've since heard they'll make you a Reuben, even though it's not on the menu.) It didn't quite live up to its predecessors, lacking that extra little tart something-something (not enough dressing, slaw instead of kraut) to make it stand out.
On follow-up visits I tried the patty melt featuring two grilled Buzz Buttered Steaks with mushrooms, Dijon mustard and Swiss on a fluffy Brioche bun. Pretty tasty. I also sampled a nice chicken and artichoke salad (except for the dry chicken) with roasted red peppers, walnuts, tomatoes and red onions with a creamy white balsamic dressing over mixed field greens. It came with a moist chocolate muffin, but I sure miss those orange ones from before.
You can still build your own deli sandwich from dozens of meats, cheeses, breads and fixings', or try a few enticing new items. There are a handful of burgers (the Chef features bacon, brie and apple slice with herb aioli spread) and wordly paninis (Italian, Greek and Cuban).
And if you don't see one of your old favorites, be sure to ask. It may just be masquerading under a different name. For example, the popular Undecided - a salad plate featuring scoops of egg, chicken and tuna salad - is now called the Blossom Trio.
There's also this frighteningly intriguing new creation called "The C-A-B-G." You can't make this stuff up, so in the menu's own words ...
"Only a select few truly know what it stands for, so please keep it to yourself. All you need to know is that after only one bite your heart will literally skip a beat. We begin with a classic Blossom grilled cheese on Texas toast, any style you like. Next, we top it with four Buzz Buttered Steaks, Applewood bacon, a fried egg, lettuce, tomato, mustard and mayo before we finish construction with another Blossom grilled cheese on top."
As if four burgers stacked between two grilled cheeses weren't enough, you can also "double" or "triple" it for a few bucks more.
Is this some kind of joke? The C-A-B-G must stand for Calling All Big Guys. Or Croak At (Once) By God.
The new Blossom is open only for lunch so far, but crowds have been strong - a mixture of old faces and new, just like the menu. Although there are no immediate plans to open for dinner, the new owners are in the process of adding beer to their offerings (with a focus on state brews) and may eventually extend hours to attract an after-work crowd.
There's no doubt most people will want to make the inevitable comparison: Is the new Blossom as good as the old one?
Let's just say it's different. Not better, not worse, just a nostalgically neat place where you can once again get a pretty good lunch - and maybe take a walk down memory lane.
It's great to have it back.
Contact writer Steven Keith at email@example.com or 304-348-1721. You can also find him on Facebook as "DailyMail FoodGuy," on Twitter as "DMFoodGuy" or follow his blog at http://blogs.dailymail.com/foodguy.