Six months ago, a cute little corner-restaurant called Cafe Moto was the place to go for a cozy, affordable bite to eat if you found yourself wandering underneath the JMZ in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Co-owned by restaurateur John McCormick and his wife Vanessa Shanks, the spot was popular for its warm and vibrant atmosphere, its live music, and affordable, albeit sort-of-dated, food ever since its opening in 2002.
So, when McCormick and Shanks announced that Cafe Moto was shutting down for good, its loyal fan base was understandably disappointed — but little did they know their old standby fave wouldn’t be gone for long. A mere three months after shutting its doors, McCormick and Shanks totally revolutionized their approach to their restaurant and reopened their doors in summer 2016. These days, Cafe Moto is called Bar Velo, and its patrons are seriously loving everything this charming joint has to offer—including its brand new, 100 percent vegan menu.
“We don’t make a big deal about our menu being plant-based. It’s in the fine print, but to us, good food is good food,” Bar Velo told us in an e-mail. If you ask us, their Black Bean Portobello Burger with a side of slaw does look pretty tasty.
Bar Velo Brooklyn/Yelp
While before, Cafe Moto was known for its meat-heavy fare (you could order Roasted Chicken, Slow Cooked Short Rib, and Braised Pork Ragout, as well as a few different meat-burgers as a main), these days Bar Velo slings familiar and homey dishes, sans meat, dairy, and eggs.
Bar Velo spoke to us about their decision to go 100 percent plant-based: “We honestly don’t see that big of a deal in it being a plant based menu; it’s not like many people get offended by unknowingly eating vegetables. You don’t see disclaimers on menus that contain meat, and that actually does rule out a portion of the dining public.”
“A lot of our old customers from Moto have come back and prefer the menu now, even though it’s plant based,” Bar Velo told us. “Maybe that’s the way forward just put it in front of people and let them enjoy it!” Unlike some other vegan eateries, Bar Velo doesn’t blast its mission statement too obviously; in fact, you have to squint pretty hard to find the fine-print at the bottom of its menu that states that no animal products are used in their kitchen. Rest assured, however: Bar Velo’s menu is totally cruelty-free and extremely accessible to anybody—even people following the Standard American Diet.
Their menu is brimming with items that are typically heavy on meat and dairy, like Shepherd’s Pie and a gooey and warm bowl of Mac n’ Cheese on the dinner menu, as well as a cheese board and even a paté.
The focus is clearly on comfort and taste, so plenty of meat and dairy eaters alike can order some of their favorite dishes and chow down without even realizing they’re eating a totally compassionate meal bereft of animal products and inhumane practices. With the vegan dairy industry on the rise, Bar Velo is going to have its choice of different products to use.
Bar Velo Brooklyn/Yelp
More and more restaurants in the industry are starting to get the memo that veganism is in, and are offering more vegan options than ever before; but it doesn’t hurt to have a few more 100 percent plant-based eateries popping up and proving to patrons that a cruelty-free diet is not only easy and inviting to all—it’s tasty, too. After all, who couldn’t use a few more extra-creamy Mac n Cheese recipes in our lives that don’t harm our planet? And if you think Bar Velo’s lentil paté is delicious, why not try your hand at whipping up our Mushroom and Walnut version, or even this Sunflower Seed variety? The options are truly endless.
“It’s great to see the wizardry of a new wave of creative chefs who are raising the bar and turning their attention to creating innovative vegetable-centric recipes,” says One Green Planet co-founder Preeta Sinha.
These days, nearly 40 percent of Americans choose plant-based meals and restaurants when eating out in favor of meat. We’re so proud of Bar Velo for taking the initiative to make the change and adapting with the times. Here’s hoping that more restaurants take the initiative to pave the way toward a more compassionate dining landscape; but in the meantime, we highly recommend checking out Food Monster app, a food app available for both Android and iPhone. The app has over 8,000+ vegan recipes with 10+ recipes added daily.
All image source: Bar Velo Brooklyn/Yelp