Blind item! Which tweedy French chef’s rare stateside appearance made former New York Times restaurant critic Mimi “The whole Brooklyn thing must be greatly exaggerated” Sheraton to schlep out to Boerum Hill for lunch on Tuesday? Just kidding. The Transom never withholds.
It was none other than Alain Senderens, the populist papa of the nouvelle cuisine famous for renouncing all three of the stars Michelin awarded his Paris restaurant, Lucas Carton, so that he could reopen as Senderens, which is French for “a restaurant that we can actually afford to eat at.”
Mr. Senderens was in town for the opening of Maimonide of Brooklyn, a.k.a. M.O.B. , the self-proclaimed “avant-garde vegetarian” restaurant, in which he is a partner with French hipster hotelier Cyril Aouizerate. And it couldn’t be further from the Place de la Madeleine.
M.O.B’s red and yellow façade is a colorful addition to an under-populated stretch of Atlantic Avenue in the shadow of One Hanson, where the growing-daily Nets stadium promises future foot traffic. But it remains to be seen whether sports fans will mob for M.O.B.’s esoteric fare, which combines the popular borough principles of veganism and localism with the dietary suggestions of twelfth century Jewish philosopher Maimonides.
Ms. Sheraton, for one, had in mind less restrictive times.
“I remember your lobster with vanilla,” she told Mr. Senderens.
The kitchen run by Pure Food and Wine’s Neal Harden sent out Yucca fries with artisan ketchup, tangy sun-dried tomato saucisson, frothy corn soup, and chickpea-mushroom “nuggets,” to a francophone-heavy crowd.
And, in a cruelty-free twist on Brooklyn vernacular, resin vegetables adorn the walls like all those taxidermy bucks, on wooden plaques painted with solemn painted messages. “RIP Mister Avocado, he died for guacamole.”
The honey in the honey mustard dipping sauce is the only animal product on the premises, a waiter wearing a one-armed apron not unlike the toga Maimonides himself might have worn told us. And despite the Jewish associations, he explained, nothing is blessed.
As for the corn used in the kitchen, according to “The Awesome Genesis,” a comic book manifesto starring Mr. Aouizerate distributed in lieu of menus, the use of America’s favorite subsidy was “in memory of the Native Americans who used to grow corn on Boerum Hill in Brooklyn.” Their memory was further preserved by a Navajo headdress in the front of the restaurant.
“We don’t get a lot of corn in France so it’s always…special,” Le Fooding’s New York chief Anna Polonsky remarked, as she finished off hers.