Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Jawful of Falafel

Recently, I discovered a forgotten note to myself. It was written in the notes section of a palm pilot (God. Remember those? It was like revisiting an Apple IIe.) and it read:

Why do I keep eating unsatisfying food?

I have a murky recollection of writing this down - I think it came on the heels of eating a dry cookie that tasted like drugstore suntan lotion. Since recovering this note, I've been mulling over my food satisfaction levels. The compulsion to consume any old hairball out of the convenience store is a strange reflex. I am almost NEVER happy with what I've purchased, it doesn't taste good and I wind up resenting the loss of a good $1.59.

So I'm going to keep track of new things I eat and, as a new feature here at Shame, Inc., each week I will review the Meat Hut or Food-a-teria from whence it came. The restaurant need not be new to the world. Just new to me.

I want to make clear that I have no experience in culinary writing. I am merely recounting my personal experience. I am only what I am: a person who eats.

This week: Falafill located at 3202 N. Broadway.

I've been drooling over Falafill ever since the sign went up a few weeks ago. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to sample its wares.

At around 12:30, I marched over to Falafill carrying a four-pack of Scott toilet paper, without a bag (I had just been to the Walgreens to pick up the toilet paper and exited the drugstore sans bag - the result of a series of microscopic errors which added up to "Managers should not work the cash registers".). When I opened the door, I was hit with a sudden self conscious wave about the toilet paper as some flagrant admission that, yes indeed, I DO use the bathroom, thank you very much. And considering the volatile nature of chick peas in general, it would appear that I came to the restaurant prepared.

Falafill is set up just the way Americans like their eateries: Clean, white and sterile enough for a tracheotomy. Or to sell Frozen Yogurt.

As you approach the counter, there is a cooler filled with exotic beverages (including cans of Nescafe which, my friend Tina told me, they apparently drink a lot of in Egypt. Ever since she told me that I have softened my previously snooty stance on instant coffee.)

The menu is fairly simple: Lots of Falafel. Sandwiches, Salads, and a few combo items offering hummus and fries (there are also sweet potato fries, which I did not order - but I may next time.)

They could stand to revise their traffic patterns during a lunch rush. After an extended wait in line, I ordered my falafel sandwich and stood to the side clutching my toilet paper (One or two fellow customers eyed me with some suspicion. Makes sense, my proximity to the bathroom was close.). It's a small place and there is not much of a waiting area.

After an e-fricking-ternity, I finally received my sandwich.

Falafill has an extensive side and condiment bar. I dumped some lemon tahini sauce over the sandwich and left. There was plenty more to sample, but the toilet paper was getting in my way.

The sandwich itself was pretty good. The lemon tahini was a spit gland shocker. The Falafels were soft in the inside without being undercooked and the outside was nice and crisp. Truth be told, though, could I distinguish a bad Falafel from a good one? Can you?

My only real gripe about the sandwich is the use of a truly unspectacular pita.  It was just one of those plain old whole wheat burlap sacks you can buy at the grocery.  A mere vehicle for the falafel...but I wouldn't want to eat it by itself. (Which is how I feel about bread and sandwiches.  If I wouldn't want to eat it on its own, why bother?)

But why the inflated price? I payed $5.16 for a few fried chick pea balls and a pita. It was good, but I can get pretty much the same thing for $3.25 down the street at Aladdin's. Or ANY Mediterranean fast food joint, for that matter.

I don't think there are going to be any riots over this price hike. I seem to recall a quiet hullabaloo when Starbucks charged over a buck for a cup of coffee, but that died down in short order. Why? Because it was fashionable, addictive and non-threatening.

Falafill may not be addictive but it is fashionable, in that sterile, non-threatening way. I think it will survive.


Was it what I wanted? Yes.
Did it taste good? Yes.
Right price? Eh.
Would I go back? Yes.

Wonder what hairball I'll eat next week?


S. E. Johnson said...

Today's quotable:

"After an extended wait in line, I ordered my falafel sandwich and stood to the side clutching my toilet paper."

Dianna said...

I love that you used the word "hullabaloo".

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