There is a restlessness to Boillon’s approach to cooking. He’s rarely satisfied to serve up a classic without some calculated variation. It could be his aforementioned chicken soup or his farro risotto (a satisfying vegetarian take, with Jerusalem artichokes and shallots, that shifts the essential nature of the silken dish to something more rustic and chewy) or even his steamed mussels (an umami-laden version in a lemongrass-dashi broth that seems to intensify the flavor of every bivalve).
Don’t get me wrong. Mothership is not just an iconoclastic punk, bent on blowing up all traditions. The place bows before the past, too, whether Boillon’s Florida-Caribbean roots or the Caribbean bakery that previously occupied this space on Georgia Avenue. Two of Mothership’s best dishes, in fact, are grounded in history. The crackly Cuban pizza’s flavors (including mustard bechamel!) expertly mimic those of the pressed sandwich. And the miniature Jamaican patties, juicy orbs of puff pastry filled with oxtail and bone marrow, are paired with a spicy guava sauce. The latter is like stoner food for gastronomes.