by CHLOE.: Veganizing American comfort foods and global culinary treasures
by CHLOE. is a rapidly-expanding New York-based casual vegan restaurant that appeals to all urban warriors who seek an addition of art and ethical eating to the daily plate. Due to this trendy appeal, I was beyond excited to attend the recent opening weekend at the new Boston Seaport location. Read on for my review.
My first reaction upon entering Boston's new vegan gem, by CHLOE., was confused astonishment. I gazed dumbfounded at the words: “Nicoise Salad”, which appeared in bold on their Grab-and-Go menu. I appreciate the sanctity of Salade Niçoise after spending two summers in South of France. While studying abroad in Nice, this colorful salad was a staple item in my life. It may be composed of juicy red tomatoes, crunchy green beans, fresh-caught tuna, seasoned anchovies, farm-fresh hardboiled eggs, roasted new potatoes, and multi-colored olives, all served atop a bed of crisp romaine lettuce and lightly dressed in robust olive oil and Dijon-kissed vinaigrette. I learned from my Niçoise host mother that the origin of ingredients is absolutely essential to fine cooking in Southern France. Thus, this simple salad exudes its signature appeal only when a high quality of ingredients is ensured. Savoring correctly-composed Salade Niçoise with a glass of chilled rosé while watching the waves of the Mediterranean Sea crash against the pebbles of the coast at sunset is a truly incomparable experience.
To be clear, I fully advocate plant-based eating. I have been a vegetarian for over a decade and a flexi-vegan for the better part of my adult life. However, in Europe, fish is also included in my dietary allowance because I was informed by my giggling host mother that fish are not animals in France. Thus, it has been ingrained in my mind that an authentic Salade Niçoise must contain fresh catch in addition to the garden-picked vegetables that are specific to regional terroir. And so my mind raced with confused questions while staring at CHLOE’s menu. How dare this new fashion-forward restaurant infringe upon my beautiful memories of this seafood salad? How can CHLOE turn such a sacred meal into a packaged lunchtime quick-fix? What on Earth is chickpea tuna and what nerve of CHLOE to mimic the real thing! Most importantly, what would my disapproving host mother say? I could vividly hear my Niçoise host mother’s uncontrollable laughter as I stood in line at CHLOE’s trendy counter.
My legs tensed, at the ready to flee. But then my gaze fell upon another menu item: “Mac n’Cheese”. I had written off the American processed version of this food years ago after finally becoming disgusted with binge-eating this dish at birthday parties as a child. Yet now my mouth watered at the realization that this was hand-crafted plant-based perfection, not typical Kraft. My stomach yearned for the melting, creamy sweet potato and cashew cheese that would surround the playful spiral noodles. And just when I thought that this vivid image could not get any better, my vision hit the freshly-baked old fashioned chocolate chip cookies that sat proudly in the display window by the cash register. The circular chocolate spots within the fake-buttery biscuit appeared as eyes that locked with mine. As with Mac n’Cheese, I had discounted the value of processed American chocolate chip cookies many moons ago after having gained 10 pounds when they became a regular dinner item in 8th grade (among my failed attempts at adolescent rebellion, but that’s a story for another time). Instantly, I was sold. I ordered both items, drooling and dazed.
The seemingly genuine American comfort food formed of wholesome vegan ingredients did not disappoint. As I sat savoring my steaming, non-cheese cheesy noodles on my modern cushioned throne of a restaurant booth, a laundry list of questions came to my taste buds. Why am I offended by CHLOE’s attempt at veganized French cuisine, but intrigued by their mastery of plant-based American comfort food? How can I consider the former cultural appropriation if I’m not even French? Isn’t their sweeping substitution of factory-farmed trash for plant-based genius just as deplorable in terms of alteration of authenticity?
And my food responded with its sinful, tempting aromas, delivering the truth to my hungry mind. It’s not “just as deplorable”, but rather “just as brilliant”. Delicious veganization of the world’s favorite foods is done with authentic intention: to promote “eating well and eating with purpose”.
As if some magic pill had been baked with love into my scrumptiously gooey chocolate chip cookie, the ultimate realization of CHLOE’s untouchable wisdom dawned on me. by CHLOE. truly is paving the pathway for incorporating inclusion into to eco-friendly eating on-the-go. The restaurant makes sustainable eating widely appealing and accessible by its incorporation of non-traditional vegan items into its menu, such as their gluttonously pure Mac n’Cheese and the questionable Salade Niçoise. Of course we can still find $10 cold-pressed kale and wheatgrass juice on the menu for the stereotyped liquid diet eccentric vegans, but by CHLOE. is more than just an over-priced juice bar. Rather, the restaurant has widespread reach by drawing in novice plant-based eaters through veganization of American comfort foods and global cuisine.
by CHLOE and its creative, sustainable innovation on diverse recipes is inspiring a world of positive global change.
But what’s the verdict on their experimentation with the original Salade Niçoise? Can it compare to the taste of summers in South of France? The jury is still out. Stay tuned for my review after my next trip to by CHLOE to find out.