Like any good millenial cliche, I am a conflicted omnivore. That’s why I perked up when I heard about Maimonides of Brooklyn (MOB), a vegan comfort food restaurant based on some very ancient philosophy. I brought an actual vegetarian along for comparison’s sake.
Since opening in 2012, MOB has observed the strictest standards as as it strives to bring quality vegan fare to 525 Atlantic Avenue. Owned by a Frenchman named Cyril Aouizerate, the eatery aims to embody the teachings of Maimonides, a 12th-century Jewish philosopher who advocated a plant-based diet for his perplexed followers.
“Our restaurant is so strict that we can’t bring dairy products in here. This way we can say there’s no cross-contamination,” said our server, Elexa.
Elexa nudged me hard towards the California MOB Burger ($15), a crimini mushroom burger served with avocado, herbed cashew cheese, caramelized onion, and a Brooklyn Brine pickle wedge. There’s a choice of whole wheat or potato roll, but that’s no choice at all. I got the potato roll at her urging (somewhere, Danny Meyer smiled at the proliferation of Martin’s famous bun.)
The burger came with potato wedges that were delightfully salty and crispy on the outside, and pleasantly smushy on the inside. The burger itself deserves to come second in this paragraph. The bun was thick and hearty and the cashew cheese is really something you must try, but the onions were hardly a standout.
The burger patty itself was a point of disagreement between my vegetarian friend and I. I found its mushroom base imbued burger with a pleasant flavor, but the mouthfeel was overly tender and lacked the sort of crusty bite a good burger ought to have. Maybe I’m being carni-normative. My friend thought so. She raved about the combination of the flavors and their interplay, refusing to separate any particular ingredient.
The chocolate hazelnut torte ($10) was a standout. It’s dominated by housemade vegan-friendly Nutella that somehow outpaces the real thing in flavor. It’s chocolatey and light and wonderfully crunchy courtesy the nuts atop it. My vegetarian friend literally (the original definition) swooned.
Coffee is served in adorable miniature French presses and I was told to let it steep for an additional few minutes. That’s about the best thing to say about it. The almond milk, like Reinier Wolfcastle’s goggles, did nothing.
Maimonides once said that “no disease that can be treated by diet should be treated with any other means.” At MOB, the concept may not always be executed perfectly, but the disease of half-hearted isolated soy protein-based imitations omnivore knockoffs that typify vegan fare is certainly cured.