Magic Falafel by ANON.

It’s rare to find yourself in Camden Lock market on a weekday unless you work there, are a tourist, or a teenager looking for something illicit. I was just hungry after walking from town. It was sweltering and jammed full, with people lining the sides of the canal, the water bright green with summer algae.  Camden is a place renown for fast, varied, portable international food – much of it vegetarian. It even boasts a Mildred’s. The street food stalls snake around three or four alleyways in the market, with vendors cooking in small box kitchens and vying for passing trade.  They’ve taken to laying out samples on their counters to make their offerings stand out and appeal. But in the heat, it all just looked congealed and fly-blown. Despite its veggie credentials, there was very little fresh food on offer in the market. Lots of basic meat in bread/wrap combinations – tacos, burgers, various Asian specialities wrapped in a takeaway layer of various rice papers or chapatti – but nothing with any crunch.  It’s noticeable in the new laudable hipster love affair with plant-based diets that many of the insta/facebook sites and markets do tend to be of the deep-fried, processed faux meat, highly sugar-laced confectionary type. There’s a lot of cake and baked goods that you’d never look at twice normally, being scoffed in the name of new found vegan life.  It might be a symptom of the difficulty in carting fresh and chopped salad and vegetables in confined street food vendor vans and stalls. It might be nutritional ignorance – or everyone’s having a lot of cheat diet days. Whatever the reason, it’s great to turn Vegan to save the planet, but you have to save yourself too, and only a balanced diet of varied plants will do that.

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Which is why falafel is such a perfect meal. A falafel wrap just cannot be a falafel wrap unless it contains mountains of crisp salad and pickle.  A truly wonderful falafel – street food or not – always come with that right combination of masses of varied, fresh and crunchy salad, hotly spiced falafel, perfect creamy tahini sauce, sweet/sharp chilli sauce and soft pita. So it took a few forlorn wanders around the market (and even a look into Mildred’s) finally to come across a side alley with the glorious sight of a mountain of fresh carrots, purple cabbage, pickles, tomatoes and grilled aubergines calling to me like a siren to a sailor in the deep fried fog. It’s called Magic Falafel – and not only are they jolly nice people – their falafel roll is a masterpiece of stuffing pita with extraordinary amounts of crunch, bite and creaminess, for six pounds. They do boxed falafel too for those who eschew bread. But the pita comes in a nice tough bag, easy to take away and eat by the canal with a view of the algae and Amy impressionists, and strong enough to take what’s left (it’s huge) home.

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Magic Falafel. Camden Lock Markets.

Bread – 3/5

Falafel- 4/5

Salad – 4/5

Extras 4/5

Intoxication – 0/5

Many Thanks to our special guest reviewer ANONYMOUS this week!

 

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My pitta overfloweth (and not in a good way)

It was a grey Wednesday morning as I woke blearily on the floor of the squat I had been kipping on for the past few nights. The previous night, as I stood rather uselessly watching people impressively craft a bar out of doors that had been acquired from around the building, my friends words had rung through my head – “Apparently it’s the best falafel place in the city. Every lunch time there are queues down the street.” My belly had rumbled at the thought and I reflected on how glad I was that I had taken her up on the idea of trialling such a tempting offer. It was with this in mind I found myself commuting across London at lunch time to meet said friend and head over to try possibly ‘the best falafel in the city.’

As we wandered through the curving little streets near Blackfriars station, right in the heart of belly of the urban beast, we talked at length about previously good falafels we’d had.

I’m not sure I would ever rate anything I’ve eaten 5 out 5,” my friend mused “I would have to know that nothing could ever be better and I’m not sure I could ever know that.”

It was a fair point indeed.

We continued to chat about the best things we’d ever eaten and concluded that really it had a lot to do with the time, the place and what you were actually craving. Wracking our brains back we decided that maybe pizza from a big fast food chain, a chocolate bar and pasta at a central London restaurant had to be the top things on our list for hitting the spot…but here we were, falafel on the brain and hungry rumbling stomachs, were things about to change?

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Falafel House (http://www.falafel-house.co.uk/) was a small little deli with a few high chairs to sit on at the window. We were faced with the choice of falafel in pitta (£4.50) or a falafel salad box (£6.25) – which I suppose isn’t that expensive for the centre of our capital city but still made me wince slightly. Naturally we both went for falafel in pitta and I decided to splash out the extra £1 and get fried aubergines in mine too. The woman serving me did not seem happy with the world today, glowering somewhat at me, but none-the-less filled the pitta up with the multitude of salads they had on offer behind the counter and squeezed a generous amount of chilli sauce over the top.

The first thing I noticed when I unwrapped my falafel from its neat little bag was that the “pitta” it was in looked nothing like any pitta I’d had before. My friend assured me that it was definitely fluffy but still a pitta – I had felt maybe I had just been fobbed off with a large bread roll. The “pitta” was full to the brim and successfully held its consistency and large amount of filling right to the last bite, which is something I feel I can rarely say these days. The falafel, which was actually hard to taste among the multitude of different salads and smotherings of sauce, was fresh and tasty. The salad, of which there was a huge and varied amount, took up most of the wrap and completely swamped the fried aubergine I had paid that extra £1 for (why do I bother?). I feel my friend made the right decision when she opted to not have the bean or lentil salad in hers, I on the other hand had just eagerly nodded when the sullen server had asked if I wanted all salad.

All in all this was definitely not your traditional falafel in pitta but certainly filled us up and left us with a pleasant taste in our mouths. The huge variety of salad, ranging from tabouleh and grated carrot to mixed bean salad to green lentils, would probably have been better appreciated in a salad box and if I go back I’ll definitely be more selective with my choice. Despite not living up to being ‘the best falafel in the city’ it certainly seemed to be the most popular falafel place in the city as a hefty crowd of suits swarmed in and out of the place throughout our stay and I felt very lucky that we’d managed to quickly bag ourselves one of the 4 chairs in the place to munch our lunch. 

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Now here comes the stats!

Falafel -3/5 – Good fresh tasting falafel but nothing to write home about

Bread- 2.5/5 – We both concluded that falafel is best served in a wrap

Salad – 3/5 – The salad selection was vast and expansive (probably would have been good if we had wanted a falafel salad box – but who wants that?) however there were too many different flavours for one wrap. 

Sauce – 3/5 – The chilli sauce had a good amount of spice but could very well have been any big brand sauce from the supermarket

Have you had a good falafel? Or a disgusting one? We need to know! Email us at ratemyfalafel@gmail.com

Many thanks to angel_girl for this excellent summary of  Falafel House!

 

 

CHICK CHICK BOOM!

Many thanks to our guest reviewer this week:  Jonny!

by @falafelboys

Brent Cross shopping centre is known for its shops. There are loads of them. 120 to be precise. There’s even a pop up beach in the summer, where literally 350 tonnes of sand and 100 palm trees are plonked into the North West London car park.

More importantly, since its opening last month, it’s now home to CHICK ‘falafel bar’.

Healthy (ish) fast food, CHICK sell German and Middle Eastern foods. Brilliantly simple, their menu is split into pittas and salads, and there are six items, starting from £5.60. See the full menu below – including a great selection of extras and vegetarian options.

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note from editor – why would you add a boiled egg???

Luring you in, you smell the waft of CHICK’s fresh falafel before you reach it, and it’s really good. Unlike it’s restaurant on Leather Lane though, this branch (number two) is more of a kiosk than a sit-down restaurant, but there is a small seating area for eight people.

Whilst queuing we glanced at the menu but knew what we were going for. The falafel in pita, a classic. The first bite was everything we expected and more. The pita was soft and fluffy (they offer white and brown pita), and the falafel was hot, crunchy on the outside, and soft inside. They were SO fresh, they must have literally been out the fryer for less than 60 seconds before being slipped into the pita. Green in colour, and flavoursome, the pita was filled to the brim with six balls. Unlike some falafels, CHICK succeeded by not having a soggy bottom. Even with two spoonful’s of smooth hummus, tahini and salad it pretty much held together. We experienced a minor hummus leak, but it didn’t fall apart and there was no grease. Whole chickpeas as part of the salad was a nice surprise too, and along with the couscous added texture and extra flavour.

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The eating experience and atmosphere is busy, but in all honesty what do you expect when you’re in the middle of a shopping centre? Having said that, it’s not hectic at all, the queue for the food went down very quickly and the staff are friendly. There wasn’t anything negative about the visit other than a limited selection of drink options, but as it’s only their first month perhaps there will be more to come.

Most importantly, the falafel was unbelievably fresh and much like their strap line ‘Simple. Honest. Delicious’, we agree. Word on the street is there may be more branches opening soon, so watch this space…

Check it out, or should that be CHICK it out!

CHICK, Lower mall, Brent Cross Shopping Centre, NW4 3FP

Love Falafel? Love complaining/ prone to hyperbole? Give us an email and submit your ideas on the ‘About’ page.

Mr Falafel

London. The Big Smoke. Mr Falafel.

After a grueling couple of hours in the Science Museum, where we had seen Tim Peake’s actual space craft (v. disappointing) and learnt that scientists do lots of weird shit to mice, enough was enough. None of this learning and ‘culture’ malarky. We needed to get down to it. It was time for a falafel. Mr Falafel, of Shepherd’s Bush had been on the ‘list for years’, according to one of my esteemed colleagues, who had joined me for a jaunt in our nations capital. So we pottered along to Shepherds Bush, ruthlessly ignoring 2 other falafel stalls as we went (sorry Falafel King and Abu’s Falafel, maybe next time). On arrival, we were greeted with this sign:

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“we speak falafel fluently”- a welcome relief for tired falafel reviewers

Not only was it a Palestinian run cafe, it was Vegan society approved, multi-lingual in all things falafel. Inside, the cafe/takeaway was pleasantly understated with metal chairs and tables, but with brightly coloured walls which matched the Palestinian flag. Kitsch, retro even- but in a humble, not trying too hard sort of a way. “Authentic- for London” one friend commented.

The Menu contained an alarmingly varied selection of falafel wraps – 11 in total. This meant we spent a good 10 mins worrying about which one to get, as to be quite frank, they all looked amazing. We opted for 3 different ones so we could maximise the reviewing process. W went for the classic falafel wrap. Q went for the Falafel and Makdoos Wrap- which contained spicy walnuts as well as pickled aubergines. I, myself chose the Falafel and Ful Medames Wrap, which has seasoned broad beans in it in addition to the hummus and aubergine and salads.

On to the review. Each falafel came with a decorative jalepeno on the side, which we all agreed was A- a nice touch and B- surprisingly tasty and fresh. Some comments during the rapid eating process:

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the wrapped article

W: I Love It.

Q: It was Thrilling/Filling

C: Mmmmmn.

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the classic falafel wrap

W: You can  really taste the parsley.

Q: It’s bursting with flavour!

C: It’s really big.

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the makdoos

I’ll be quite honest here. This was possibly the best falafel I had ever had in my long career of falafel review, and that is considering mine was a little bit drippy and messy. I think this was because mine had more sauce in in from the ful medames dressing. However, we all agreed that the falafels were amazing, that we would definitely come back and try everything on the menu. We even bragged to the friendly staff that we would get the XL next time- though the mediums really were enormous anyway. The aubergine which made an appearance in all the falafels was delicious, and it is not often that you find both fried aubergine and hummus in  a ‘classic falafel wrap’.

Starting at a price of £4.50, for London I would say that it is very good value for money.

Intoxication Levels – 0/5

Dressings- 5/5

Bread- (Standard, 3.5/5)

Falafel -(5/5)

Extras – (5/5)

Over all a near perfect score. Well done Mr Falafel. You can visit their website at http://www.mrfalafel.co.uk for more info.

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Review- London Town

Mermaid Fish Bar :

189 Lower Clapton Road
London E5 8EG

Hackney Downs

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It was Wednesday evening. We had spent it pleasantly watching ‘noise’ in an old church in Hackney. As we tiredly trudged home, almost deaf after the intense wall of noise we had experienced, hunger rumbled in our bellies and I decided to pop into my local and treat my visiting Bristolians to some falafel and chips. I’d had falafel from here before but it was quite a while ago, when my brain had been swamped by the intense anxiety of the capitalist working world, and so my memory of how it was had been clouded in a haze of worry and lack of clarity. Time to try once more.

The falafel came with a range of salad and sauces. I went for all salad and just the chilli sauce (the guy seemed highly dismayed that I wouldn’t take the garlic sauce – clearly a good choice for the non-vegans out there?) The falafel themselves were cooked to perfection, crispy on the outside and soft and flavoursome inside, and were wrapped up in a thin flatbread with humous, chilli sauce and all the salads.

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Positives : Definitely the tastiest falafel wrap I’ve had in a while, served to me by a smiley and jovial guy who seemed to be constantly winking and laughing.
Negatives – It was £5. Oh and the extremely tasty chilli sauce sadly caused my wrap to leak all over me, despite the paper wrapping. Maybe I wasn’t eating it fast enough.

Portions of chips were huge (a small was £1.50) and got the thumbs up from my Bristolian chums.
Innibriation rating: 0 (due to being on antibiotics)
All in all a shining, but slightly highly priced, 4/5

*Many Thanks to our guest blogger ‘Quaid’ for this submission. If any other falafel lovers out there want to write in, contact me and I’ll post it up. There is only so much falafel I can physically eat, TBH.

Size Does Matter

Rush rush rush. Where has the time gone? There is certainly a faster pace of life here, I must say. We’ve been back in the UK for a few months, but the falafels have been fewer and far-er between. Needless-to-say, we did manage to enjoy a very large one in ….London, on the day of the Anti- Austerity March on June 20th, The most interesting thing to happen was a small bonfire of placards at the end:

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an interview with Russia Today, and of course a very large Falafel. Size DOES matter :

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I mean. Just look at the size of it!!!

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The next morning it looked less appealing…

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Location – very convenient (near a friends house, somewhere in London)

Intoxication- 5/5

Bread- unsure, drunk

Falafel itself – we were drunk

Salad- good range including jalepenos- 4/5

Size- 5/5

Stay Tuned for Rate My Falafel does Bristol.

***Do you have a falafel story you want to share? Please let us know, where-ever you may be! Falafel without borders! Falafel Sin Fronteras!