- Dana Hinkson
Green Figs and Yam: A Vegan and Omnivore Critique BKLYN Vegan Cafe
It’s time to put down the cashews and the Nutribullet today, honey! Let Aunts et Uncles do the cooking. Aunts et Uncles is a vegan cafe and retail shop located on Nostrand Avenue with an extensive resume only two years after opening. It has been featured in The New York Times, Complex Magazine and Esquire Magazine. Just last year, the store’s owners—Nicole and Michael Nicholas—rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange on behalf of American Express. At the sound of this cred, my vegan roommate, Poorvaja Subramanian, and my omnivore self had to see what the hype was about.
On a Saturday in early February, we hustled out of our dorm a little after noon, hoping to beat the crowd and get a table. We managed to get the last open table at the restaurant. The second you get in, you are defrosted by music, the hum of various conversations and minimalist Caribbean interior design. We were served quickly and unabashedly analyzed the menu’s layout design before ordering.
“Bro, is this Garamond?” I asked at one point, referring to the typeface used for the menu. After discussing serifs, we deduced that it was and liked the layout overall.
We ordered two appetizer-like dishes and two main dishes. For appetizers, we chose the AU Immaculeé Patties, a remix of the Jamaican beef patty consisting of a dairy-free crust filled with seasoned Beyond Ground Meat, and the mofongo, a Puerto Rican dish made with mashed green plantains and garlic. For the main courses, we picked the Soup of the Day and the popular Bake and Saltfish sandwich, a Trinidadian and Guyanese dish usually made with salt-cured cod and served in delicious fried dough. The wait for our food was not long. We were given just enough time to let our eyes wander over to the urbane selection of books ranging from A24 screenplay books to conversational pieces like “Among Others: Blackness at MoMA.” Before we could get to the wearable merchandise, it was time to eat.
After finding ourselves excited to have the last bits of our meal packed up to take home, Poorvaja and I concluded that the food was just as bussin’ as the music. Everything was priced fairly for how filling each dish was—$40.28 including tax! Hilariously enough, this food was so good that it made me reflect: vegan and vegetarian food are their own genres. They both bring something new and experimental to the dinner table, separating them from other cuisines. Lately, I’ve been witnessing way too many people basing the notability of vegan and vegetarian fare solely on meat. I find the effort that these cuisines put toward emulating meat-based dishes to be an aspect of their notability. Aunts et Uncles proved this when they made that plant-based bake and saltfish, replacing saltfish with that textured heart of palm. Their choice of ingredients and presentation reveals that effort and experimentation, along with unique flavor, expresses the individuality of plant-based eating. To be musing like this, it’s official: Aunts et Uncles’ hype is well-deserved for vegans and omnivores alike.
To learn more about Aunts et Uncles, and reserve your table today, visit their website at www.auntsetuncles.com.
Photo by Poorvaja Subramanian