It’s difficult to be vegetarian in Paris, and being vegan is almost unthinkable, unless the person cooks all the time. But the végétariens and végétaliens need to fear not if they’ve found Bob’s Kitchen, a cozy spot in the eleventh arrondissment swarming with hipsters—the beautifully bearded men and pretty girls with cool socks are part of the charm—families and businessmen alike, while the staff work behind the counter in a small kitchen clients can see into.
Their breakfast offering includes gluten-free pancakes, topped with blueberry and banana or served just with butter, with filtered coffee or espresso from Belleville Brulerie, a great source elsewhere in Paris. For lunch, you can find one of the most glorious soups in all of Paris, a hearty lentil and mushroom creation, topped with croutons that crisp like you wouldn’t believe. The futomaki, which is basically an uncut sushi roll, is made with brown rice and stuffed with avocado, pickled ginger and cucumber and tastes divine with some hot Sriracha sauce. Taking top prize for one of the best vegan dishes I’ve tasted would be the “veggie stew,” which comes with sautéed root vegetables and potatoes, salad, and a choice of a side such as Indian lentils or Thai green curry. As someone who has lived in a vegetarian cooking co-op for a year at Columbia with five very talented home cooks, I wanted to send the dish to each of them in New York so that they could experience the wonderful textural and flavor combination in Bob’s veggie stew. Or really, they should just come here, because it is truly a luxury that most omnivores have to be able to eat anything on the menu.
The restaurant also has an array of vegan pastries that look mouthwatering. The matcha chocolate cookie that I had definitely was.
Bob’s Kitchen, or rather, the entire “Bob food” franchise, also specialize in cold-press juices, and having seen many people go through the vaguely inconvenient process of juicing, I attempted it, too. The green juice tastes exactly like what my family makes for breakfast, except without the pulp, of course—sour, bitter, and to be honest kind of weird, but ultimately healthy. The almond milk is a delight to drink, refreshing, sweet, and soothing at the same time. The roots drink tastes overwhelmingly like beet, of course, but the ginger gives it a zing that goes a long way after a workout. The carrot juice? Reminded me of the salad aux carrottes rapées appetizer I like to have, to be honest, with the carrots and lemon present in the juice. I really loved the green smoothie, which tastes primarily of mango and baby spinach, but the vegan matcha protein smoothie is bang for your buck—a very filling drink that kept me full through the evening.
The place is addictive, and I know I want to get my fix of the soup and almond milk tomorrow. Maybe I should go back to being vegetarian? (Nah, never in Paris. Foie gras is too good).
Texte et Photos, Yvonne Hsiao, Columbia College