Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Misadventures in the Marais

The limited lunch menu at MOB. We went for the burger and fries.
I can't explain exactly why, but I wasn't in a real hurry to get to MOB, the Paris outpost of  Maimonide of Brooklyn, otherwise known as one of the newer vegan joints to hit the trop-hip upper Marais. The miniscule fast-food spot opened more than a year ago, and after one weak attempt to enter the first week they opened (the woman inside just stared at me a as I tried unsuccessfully to open the locked door. I guess they were closed.), I kind of gave up on the place.

Maybe I should have gone for the popcorn instead.
Last weekend a friend and I tried to squeeze into Cafe Pinson, a block away from MOB, but the crowds were so thick we could hardly breathe inside. Deciding we'd rather starve than suffocate, we made a demi-tour and wandered into Marche des Enfants Rouges, where we scoured menus and ogled plates of food being served from the many enticing food stalls. Exiting from a side door and a little disoriented, we got our bearings when we realized we were standing directly across from MOB. We were famished by now and they were definitely open this time, so in we went.

The guy in the backward baseball cap behind the counter dished up some serious slacker-style service, barely looking up from the book he was reading to acknowledge us as we moseyed up to make our order. Thankfully, it got better from there. (Then worse again, but I'm getting ahead of myself.) Slacker-dude kindly took our orders (there was really only one thing on the menu, and that was a burger and fries, so that's what we got), then rearranged a few platters of cheesecake on the counter-top so we could sit and eat (the one communal table was already full).

Slacker dude prepping our burgers. I wish I hadn't seen this part.
So we're sitting there talking, and out of the corner of my eye, I see slacker dude in the back maneuvering toward us with a giant tray with two indecipherable mounds on it. Midway to the dining area, he stops, opens the door to anoven, and slides the tray with the two mounds inside. Now I recognized the mounds as our lunch. The whole shebang--bun, burger, and side of greasy, thick-cut fries--were basically either frozen or refrigerated and were now being unceremoniously reheated in the oven before being served to us.

That was kind of a buzzkill.

Two minutes later, our meals were presented to us, with the thoughtful addition of a little thimbleful of ketchup. No lettuce, no tomato, no vegan cheese, no onion, no funky serrated pickle, no nothin' in terms of adornment. We tucked in anyway. My friend isn't vegan and as I bit into the mushy, funky-tasting burger, all I could think of was how I ruined her new year's resolution to eat less meat with one poor restaurant choice.

Note absence of additional vegetable matter. Some lettuce would have really helped this burger out. That's cheesecake we didn't try in the background. 
The bun was good. Crunchy and surprisingly fresh-tasting. I don't want to talk smack about vegan restaurants, so I won't tell you about the rest except to say we each ate ever last bite, even if it was one of the least exciting meals of my life.

I give MOB a neuf sur dix (9 out of 10) just for being vegan, but dudes, you've got to liven up those burgers (and expand your menu possibilities) if you want to make a repeat customer out of me.


6 comments:

  1. So Metro (or some other large frozen food supplier) is selling frozen vegan burgers now? Is there any fresh food left in Paris? Only the really expensive places, I guess. Sorry you had such a disappointing lunch, but I'm glad you reminded how awful the food is in Paris. Farm-fresh and local is all the rage in LA - there is so much good food here now, and very veg- friendly if not all out vegan.

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    1. I'm not sure of the burgers' origins, but they were definitely the wrong color for "house-made." The new thing here is buying from a "ruche" or "hive," which is, essentially, a CSA. You join, place your order online (no minimum), and pick it up directly from the farmers/producers at a pre-determined meeting place. (In my case, Saturdays at Le Comptoir Generale.) This way, you are guaranteed "fresh," and you can speak with the person who cultivated. It's kind of neat! Not quite LA yet, but ... maybe? someday? (No!)

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  2. Frozen burgers and frozen fries .. NO thank you.. I can have that here in the UK , but won't. They need to sort it out if they would like me to visit the first time :-) .. and nothing on the side either ..

    I personally don't mind going without meat .. so it is not that.. !

    When my friend and I were there in April 2009 , apart from all the meals we either had in groups , we did eat on our own a few times, we were in the Marais, and there were so many places to choose from, we couldn't make up our minds, so ended going all the way back to the Trocadero ,how apartment was there, and eating in a little place there, and it was amazing! and we were starving too.

    Let's hope your next meal out is a hit :-) x

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    1. Anne, there are still way too many choices here, too. Even for a vegan! That's why we always end up at the same South Asian place; we don't have to think about it! But I love all the possibilities, and the Marais does, indeed, have many. The day we ate the ho-hum burger, we thought about falafel instead, but Saturday is the jewish sabbath and all the falafel places were closed. ((tristesse))

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  3. thats disheartening to hear about MOB. My fiance and I live in Brooklyn and the MOB here is unbelievable and only serves extraordinary fresh food. We are actually traveling to Paris in June for our Honeymoon and were looking forward to trying MOB and many other great vegan spots we have heard of. If you have any suggestions that would be great!
    Thanks

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  4. Hi, Grizz! My MOB experience may have been a one-off, so please don't write them off based on my review. I hear desserts are their strong suit, so maybe popping in for an afternoon sugar blast would be a better idea than the burger.

    I have so many dining recommendations for you! If you message me at aureliadandrea at gmail dot com, I'll send you my latest vegan-Paris article from the September issue of VegNews, plus a few other recommendations.

    In the last several months, three new veg/vegan places have opened here, and it's really exciting to see the landscape changing for the better. One thing's for sure: you won't starve on your honeymoon! FYI, June 21 is the Fete de la Musique in Paris; hopefully you'll be here for that festive event.

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