I knew that new Montclair restaurant Uncle Moustache served meatless favorites such as hummus and falafels, but I had no idea of the depths of culinary and visual delights I was about step into when I opened their unassuming front door for lunch last weekend.
Antique tchotchkes on display in the entry way immediately caught my attention and I was intrigued. Upon entering I noticed the restaurant was full of vintage signs and accessories and I suddenly felt like a kid in a candy store. A tin ceiling, luggage racks lining the walls, and old advertising knickknacks... I wanted to go home, get my stuff and move in. Instead of sitting down at my table I wandered the space, looking at all of the amazing antique pieces scattered around the restaurant, the most interesting of which has to be the tiny claw-foot bathtub that’s placed in a little nook with lots of ye olde-timey photographs. Between the décor, the relaxing music that filled the air and the French I could hear being spoken at the front, I felt like I had just walked into a Jean Pierre Jeunet film, and I totally expected Audrey Tautou to come sauntering out from the back with her cute cropped Amélie haircut.
After I sat at my table with a refreshing hibiscus iced tea, I was able to calm down and peruse the menu. The vegan options all looked so good that VeggieGuy and I couldn’t make a decision and just went with a little of everything. We started with the combination mezze plate and had foul (fava beans with tomato, parsley and garlic), rahib (grilled eggplant with red bell peppers and cucumbers), hummus, babagannouj and spinach with chickpeas. The food’s presentation on the plate made it look almost too good to eat. Almost. After just a few short bites, VeggieGuy declared Uncle Moustache his new favorite restaurant. From our table, we could see people lined up outside waiting for tables at Toast next door. I said I felt sorry for them because they could be inside with us feasting on amazing Mediterranean fare instead of waiting outside in the steamy heat.
Along with our mezze plate, we had fresh whole-wheat pita bread that was made right in front of our eyes at the front of the restaurant. Yes, you even get to see one of their chefs in action at Uncle Moustache! If that weren’t enough, we also ordered a falafel plate and zaatar bread, which looked like a little cheeseless pizza topped with sesame seeds, olive oil and herbs. The falafels were probably the best I’ve ever tasted, and they were most definitely the best looking I've ever seen. The zaatar bread was an unexpected delight. After we had polished off everything that we ordered, VeggieGuy said he felt like he had just had a religious experience. Oh yes, we will definitely be dining at Uncle Moustache again. And again. And then again after that.
Uncle Moustache is located at 702 Bloomfield Avenue, in Montclair, NJ, right across the street from Whole Foods.