The culinary use of flowers dates back thousands of years with the first recorded mention in 140 B.C. From then on, all food cultures have at one time or another incorporated flowers into their traditional dishes: Asian dishes make use of Daylily buds and Italian cuisine often uses mallow and violets. Latino cultures bring squash blossoms and Indian food uses rose petals in many recipes.
Enter Ze Café, an Upper East Side dining spot that is all about the merging of food and flowers. Literally. Owned by a husband and wife florist team, this couple moved their flower shop around the corner and transformed the old space (a converted antique carriage house) into an elegant Midsummer Night’s Dream-esque dining room filled with earthy wood and an abundance of flowers.
From the bouquet arrangements to the art, the blossoms in the soup to the wine’s floral notes, this charming French eatery is all about the flowers. Add to this a quaint brick wall, marble-topped tables, imported French wicker chairs, and classical music and this haute dining spot grabs your attention with its appeal and warmth.
Chef Jonathan Roman has developed a new dinner menu featuring delightful choices such as Wild Blossom Salad boasting mixed greens with a colorful helping of edible blossoms such as snap dragons, pansies, and nasturtium in pink, yellow, red and purple in a champagne vinaigrette; Long Island duck breast with persimmon purée and shallot gastique garnished with peas from a local farm, Roccheta medjool dates, Lardoons with a champagne vinaigrette rendered in bacon; Signature Soft Shell Crab Sandwich on house-made, buttery brioche (my personal favorite) and more! For dessert, the restaurant offers seven different seasonal pies, such as classic apple, mixed berry streusel, strawberry pistachio meringue, strawberry rhubarb, blueberry meringue, coconut cream and key lime.
Be sure to sample one of the unique food and flowery cocktail parings, such as the Hibiscus Royal combining sweetened hibiscus flower with champagne and liquor or the Gin blossom concocted from edible pansy and sky blue juice.
Ze Cafe is located at 398 E. 52 St., New York, 212.758.1944; www.zecafe.com