M.O.B. - Healthy "Junk Food" with a Side of Hip Hop
MOBs Flatbread via M.O.B
Cyril Aouizerate isn't a typical Frenchman, and that's not only because he is responsible for a chain of chic, affordable (we're talking €79-for-a-room-in-Paris affordable) boutique hotels. His ability to fuse seemingly disparate interests into a successful restaurant with two locations, separated by an ocean, is also impressive. What is perhaps most surprising about M. Aouizerate though, is that despite his country's collective love of cheese, you won't find a bit of the stuff in his restaurants. The health-conscious, philosophically-minded hotelier happens to follow a vegan diet, and the menu at M.O.B. is keeping with that tradition.
Despite my suspicion that M.O.B. was a reference to a certain 2Pac song, the name actually stands for Maimonides of Brooklyn. The medieval philosopher/academic/doctor/rabbi named Moses Maimonides wrote extensively about health, and Aouizerate had long been fascinated by those writings. It was apparently while walking on the Brooklyn Bridge during a visit to NYC that his idea for the restaurant, and its name, became clear. The end result combines creative vegan fare (his business partner is a chef from a Michelin starred restaurant), a love of hip hop culture, and a desire to make healthy food accessible to more people.
The Brooklyn location is in Boerum Hill, directly next to the Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center mega stop, while the Paris outpost is in the 13th arrondissement, at the Cité de la Mode et du Design on the banks of the Seine. With trendy interiors, a completely vegan menu, and often some variety of hip hop or rap playing, it's a decidedly hipster-friendly concept purposefully placed in neighborhoods that one might not expect, and the lack of pretension really serves to elevate these eateries as destinations.
M.O.B. Burger via M.O.B Brooklyn
Culinary highlights include a corn soup garnished with curried popcorn; MOBs (reminiscent of pizza or flatbread but shaped like the arches of the Brooklyn Bridge!); mac and (cashew) cheese with broccoli rabe; and the honest-to-god delicious M.O.B. Burger.
On a recent visit to Paris, I made the journey to the 13th to get my hands on a proper vegan meal. While the Brooklyn location has full lunch, dinner, and brunch menus, M.O.B. Cité de la Mode is only a lunch/dinner spot and the menu is considerably more basic, but the food isn't any less delicious. A PIXAR exhibition in the Cité complex meant that M.O.B. was crowded, as there aren't many dining options in the immediate structure, but it was worth the wait. Instead of tasting like an imitation burger patty, as vegetarian burgers so often do, the M.O.B. Burger tasted like something of its own, and it tasted fresh. It also came with a perfectly sized portion of thick fries, a small bottle of water, and a crunchy chocolate chip cookie... which, at €7,90 is an absolute bargain. I was pleased to see bottles of Brooklyn Lager in the fridge (€7), which offer displaced/former New Yorkers with a comforting taste of home – and Europeans with the opportunity to try an American beer that doesn't taste like water. In typical French fashion, 75 cl bottles of Ruinart brut are also available if you feel like dropping €98 to go with that burger.
M.O.B Cite Dining Room via M.O.B
Whether dining at the Brooklyn or Paris location, the restaurants have an ambiance that anyone with taste will enjoy, and they serve up quality food that even non-vegans can get behind.
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