Saturday, November 24, 2007

Travel: Andy Wahloo - Recycled Moroccan Delight

A restaurant full of trash might not necessarily be everyone’s cup of tea unless it is fitting out an ultra-trendy dining outlet in the heart of Paris. Of course not all Parisians would like to identify with the idea that they’re reveling in the presence on ‘trash’, instead using a term to identifying it as an individual work of art. This is also known as ‘kitsch’.

For restaurant Andy Wahloo, its reputation has been built on rehashing the past, reinterpreting the essence of Middle Eastern nostalgia. The brainchild of restaurateur Mourad Mazouz and Karim Mazouz, Andy Wahloo can be instantly associated with the rest of the Mazouz franchise that includes the highly successful Sketch and Momo London eateries.

The title of the restaurant ‘Andy Wahloo’ may simply be an Arabic term meaning ‘I don’t have anything’, however you can’t deny the link between the restaurant and its quirky recreation of an Andy Warhol influenced environment. An interesting feature of the venue that has many patrons taking a closer look is the selection of Pop Art prints put up around the restaurant. These prints may seem to be exact replicas of famous Pop Art prints, but on closer inspection you will see how they have all been modified with a surprising Middle Eastern twist. In these posters, Arabic packaging replaces the Campbell’s soup can to become the main focus. Hanging within the same space as Egyptian film posters, these prints come to life in the context of Andy Wahloo’s Moroccan retro, creating a new and vibrant vintage space that has been translated from Arabic culture.

Although the restaurant has been created by Mazouz, the real name behind the feel of the restaurant is the artist Hassan Hajjaj. Having developed a skill from constructing striking objects from all kinds of recycled material, his pop art influences shine through from the restaurant’s interiors. Hajjaj constructed a number of items located around the restaurant, such as the many lamps hanging around the restaurant that are made out of recycled material. Hajjaj’s powerful photographs that he took around North Africa also hang around the restaurant, allowing patrons to visually connect with the North African theme of the restaurant. Hajjaj’s imaginative efforts have certainly not gone unnoticed; in 2003 he helped Andy Wahloo win the French ‘Le Fooding’ award for Best Restaurant Design.

The food and drink offerings at Andy Wahloo will prove to be just as satisfying as experiencing the interiors. The cocktails prove to be even more tantalizing during the bar’s ‘Happy Hours’ between 5-8pm when drink prices will drop to half price. If you’re yearning for something without that alcoholic kick, do things the authentic way and order a flavorful hookah and chase the taste down with an authentic pot of Moroccan mint tea.

Dining at Andy Wahloo will present you with a selection of the popular mezze plates such as marinated olives and crisp salads with freshly made couscous. For mains, try their traditional North African meat Tajines or BBQ grilled meats such as chicken and lamb. If you are after some heartier-portioned meals, simply head over to the 404 restaurant next door, another Mazouz-owned establishment that is widely known for its delectable menu brimming with Moroccan, Tunisian and Algerian delights.

However, the real draw for Andy Wahloo would have to be its atmosphere. Andy Wahloo is known for its party nights, with DJs making regular appearances to mix up selections of Middle Eastern Raï music or spin some moving house tunes. The crowds that gather here are a collection of indie trendsetters or regular aficionados of the North African party scenes.
Andy Wahloo:
69 rue des Gravilliers, 3rd arrondissement, Tel: +33 (0)1 42 71 20 38, Mº Arts et Métiers Open: 12pm-2am, Mon-Sat.

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