Good to know, I mused as we entered into the café with my brother and my niece. Techno was blasting out at lunchtime. The walls seems to be ‘boom town ‘ themed, which was weird, until I realised that the owners had helped set up the festival. Having been to Boom Town Fair many times, this café seemed to be perfect. Rave meets falafel. The seats were comfy. The nervous waitress took our order, seemingly disconcerted to have a 5 year old in tow with us. She was probably high. We accidentally ordered a too large quantity of food, all mezze dishes, including falafel and hummus.
Well, we’re all pro’s at falafel I suppose, but I was dining this time with my professional chef friend, who made falafel for a living! Double dining. A cutesy couple-y double date – dinner and a (shit) movie. Our other friends had reacted in disgust when we told them, and one of them (recently single) put on a punk song from the 70’s called ‘I hate Love’ repeatedly in protest.
Because we at RateMyFalafel.com take our impartiality very seriously, we have never reviewed my friends falafel at Bristol’s ‘Roll for the Soul’ (bike workshop / cafe / music venue, check it out) so we decided to go somewhere that would not compromise our integrity. This was Mezze Palace, on Small Street, a place that my chef friend boasted she had ‘tried everything vegetarian on the menu’. Except, it turns out, the falafel. She was sick to death of falafel (like the author).
The 4 of us used to be the type of people who dug food out of bins and lived in squalor, trying to work as little as possible and that kind of thing. Now, as we reach the end of our 20’s, we have finer tastes and higher standards. With the same level of relative poverty, what with the rent paying and taxes and all that malarkey that you get when you enter free market capitalism, in the age of austerity. I’m sure it will start to ‘trickle down’ soon, though.
As we met in the underground restaurant in which the Mezze Palace was situated, a very pretty and decorated Lebanese place, we immediately started a refined and adult conversation about crack. Luckily, to lighten the mood, one friend had brought along a joke book. While we waited for our sharing platter and sides to arrive, we contrived to find the most offensive joke. My favourite was :
Man at bar – do you serve women?
Barman – No, you have to bring your own.
When the food arrived it was delightful. We had a mixture of the typical Lebanese cuisine such as tabbouleh (which my friend claimed was ‘the best tabbouleh anywhere ever’ hummus, vine leaves, foul medames, baba ganoush and of course, Falafel.
We tucked in straight away, using the bread to dip in and out and enjoying a spinach-y side that I had never had before. To be honest, the falafel was my least favourite of the dishes, there seemed to be an excess of parsley in all the food apart from the falafel, leaving it pale. Beige, one might say. It was very crisp ( I don’t like my falafel too crisp) and was covered in sesame seeds, which I did like.
The service was weird. We were asked by 3 different waiters if we wanted to order a main (we were absolutely stuffed by the end of the sharing platter) and when we ordered a cheeky medicinal brandy instead as I was ill, the manager looked furious. When it came to pay we had to troop to the bar instead of having the bill brought to us. It was a strange end to the meal. Why would we need more food?
Then we went to see Valerium at the cinema. It was as bad as the reviews had given it, sexist while trying not to be, very predictable and far too long.
Falafel – 2/5
Hummus – 5/5
Bread – 4/5
Service – 2/5
Ambience – 4/5
As social media manager of rate my falafel.com I have a confession to make. I’ve only ever had falafel from a supermarket. So instead of continuing somewhat fraudulently in my new job I decided I would have FALAFEL! From somewhere that wasn’t Tesco’s!
Lucky for me I had already arranged to try out the new vegan (to)fish and chip shop Matter Fast Foods in Bristol with my parents. My poor mother had been away abroad on business and apparently where she was, FISH (eww), is a vegetable! So we needed to get her somewhere vegan ASAP.
And they had falafel!
As I approached the shop I realised this was the place to be in Bristol. The small shop was filled to the brim with hungry people! There was a queue which gave me slight anxiety (as someone who is non-British born) but it moved quickly and the service was friendly and the atmosphere was great!
Now having read and reread the reviews on ratemyfalafel.com I had expected the falafel to come wrapped in things like bread and hummus. But no….I got three falafels in a bag.
I was confused.
But I was not deterred!
So i made my way back to the car and tucked in!
The falafel was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside and it was beautifully spiced … overall it was a good falafel.
I did however feel that I had failed in my attempt to have a full on falafel experience. No hummus or bread to rate. I wasn’t drunk because I don’t drink. I felt somewhat disheartened that I couldn’t deliver a review to the usual ratemyfalafel.com standard.
Next time I’ll stick to slowly building our social media empire!
And on that note… If you don’t already. Follow us on twitter. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on instagram. We need to be validated!
A note from the editor – rumour has it that Matter Foods Fish n Chips is very nice indeed- so don’t judge them just by their slightly lacking falafel!
I finally did it. After living in Bristol for over a year, I finally decided the time was right to splash out on a falafel from the famous Biblos, a Bristol institution, or so it seems. There are rave reviews on the internet, people mention it to me as a falafel eater all the time, it’s on Trip Advisor as if tourists should head there before they visit the SS Great Britain or whatever. So it was time. Technically, not actually my first time, I definitely had one a few years ago, but was far too drunk to do any kind of review. So here it is.
Let me set the scene. I was very hungry. I’d accidentally done a 2 hour gym session, and was on my way to a pub quiz. I had to act fast. I spied the take away over the street on Stokes Croft and veered over there. The alarmingly high price of £5.20 for a medium (£6.90 for large) didn’t put me off this time, I was THAT hungry.
It was a high price to pay, I think we can all agree. I remembered that you could ask for a combination – half of the wrap one thing, half another filling. I decided to take up this offer as, to be quite honest, I am becoming increasingly fed up of falafel. It’s not easy reviewing falafels’ on a regular basis. It’s not easy being me. Anyway, I went for half falafel and half roasted vegetables.
It was possibly the best decision of my life. But before we go into the taste and textures of this particular wrap, a little note on the shop itself. The menu was displayed on a chalk board surrounded by a gold frame, very classy. Fake flowers were placed on each table (very easy to knock over) and there was a range of newspapers to peruse. I was pleased to note that all the employees were female, a refreshing change from the usual male dominated take-away profession. I would say however, that the wooden benches could do with a cushion or two- my bony bum was very uncomfortable as I waited for my wrap to be made.
I reluctantly handed over the money and rushed out onto the always far too busy streets of Stokes Croft and resisted the temptation to rip open the wrap and eat it then and there.
However, I waited until I got home and savoured it, like any good reviewer. I’ll cut to the chase. It was amazing. Maybe it tasted even better because I was as previously mentioned, hungry, but this was the best falafel and roasted veg wrap I had ever had. The veg included sweet potato, giving it a lovely sweet taste, and it also had some sort of Chinese tasting sauce along with a generous dollop of hummus. The falafel itself was flavoursome and not too crunchy, and the salad was wide including the weird red vegetable you get in a falafel that isn’t cabbage or beetroot.
Criticisms include it being a bit sloppily rolled, and the bread was bog standard.
Bread – 3/5
Falafel – 4/5
Price – 3/5
Intoxication – 2/5 (high on gym).
Plus points for hummus and delicious sauce.
All in all, worth it. I was full from the medium size but a larger appetited person may want to try the bigger one. Here is a link to their menu for more info. https://biblos.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/biblos-cafemenu-2016-v1-web.pdf
They also seem to have a deal on Fridays called Falafel Fridays which I am eager to check out.
My faith in falafel has been restored. Thanks, Biblos.
Who is the falafel? I ruminate for several minutes thinking of the historical falafels of my life. There was that great one in Amsterdam with the implausible salad bar but was that me or the falafel? The city, booze or hummus? There were those homemade falafels we had when we watched Jurassic Park but I feel certain for sure that success here came from circumstantial advantage. But tonight, the moon is full and I have just finished my first falafel since moving to Bristol.
Thinking back now it was an uncomfortable experience. Upon entering the stark and silver building I peruse the menu asking myself questions like ‘Where is the falafel ?’ ‘Do they even do falafel here?’ and again the critical ‘Who is the falafel’? From behind a voice shouts for my attention. We talk the talk and it’s decided, a falafel shall be mine. He shouts it across the room but no, he is not the maker of falafel. He is the money man and the chick peas belong to those across the way. I turn, chasing the information, so keen to meet my maker. I look and all around me, like children in the corner, are the backs of silent men. Motionless in their punishment. I check them out one by one but no, I can’t decipher.
‘Who is making my falafel’?
I am hopelessly lost.
A suited man enters, he does not speak or peruse. He leans casually and looks around and I know in my heart that he is not making my falafel either. Other customers enter and order, always in brevity and silence. Time aches away and still I am clueless. I play the waiting game a while longer until yes, the hero I’ve been waiting for emerges. A clean shaven man awkwardly spoons hummus to the pita.
Imagine an ordinary plastic box, translucent with rounded soft edges. Now imagine a little ball of hummus in it. Now imagine a man who gently and without joy rolls this hummus back and forth many times. He trundles his sad spoon along clawing and poking like he’s afraid. No confidence in his work here and I have never seen such tentative hummus work. He tears the bread a little and paws about a while longer silently gnawing and making cruel shapes with his mouth. He is done.
Straight out of nowhere a second man loudly rattles his friar and dumps four pieces of falafel on the pita. My falafel is sent down the line to a third man who asks me about salad. He is the salad guy. Negotiations commence and salad and chilli sauce are applied then finally to the wrapping man. My view is obscured by the counter top but his arms are a frenzy. I watch in awe as limbs wildly move to the sound of paper on paper. After all this he presents it to me, my falafel. It is much longer and thinner than I could believe. It looked so wide and full before, how did it become like this? So long and tightly packed. I leave in trepidation, holding my greasy sword. I think only about the future and what there is to come.
Before I leave I spy a counter full of beers. “Beers?” I think, I could certainly go for one of those. For a split second I head toward them before I change my mind. “Not here Michael, never from here again”. I go to another shop, appreciative of the suggestion of a beer but unprepared to spend more money in the falafel of asylum.
It’s ten minutes later, the beer has been bought, the lighting is just right and I begin to open my falafel.
By the time I finish opening my falafel I am crushed. The pita/wrap/shitty carbohydrate sheath is utterly inadequate to shield my falafel. I am left with a greasy thin pile of falafel ingredients. Laid out in a row like minutes after the firing squad have gone. Oh the sad and greasy tumbles we fall through in life. I’m thinking now, how do I eat this thing? This chick pea fucking train wreck… I want it in my mouth.
I rewrap it up in paper and fucking bite. I am sure some paper makes it’s way into the mix but by now it’s too late. The misery has spread, I am just happy to be alive. Just glad that there is anything here for me at all. I think back to the men of solitude who made this for me. I think of their experience. Did they know it would be like this for me? Did they care? Do I really care about them. I have had far better interactions with those in the service industry before, from both sides of the counter but really…what is the difference between lovelessness and apathy? Between duty and desire? The falafel and the men who made it? It’s a confusing world but I’ll tell you what… that greasy pile of road kill humus wasn’t half bad once I got stuck in. It filled a hole and those beers were great. I think we can agree though, that we can all try a lot harder.
Service. 0 stars
On Sunday night (7th) I found myself tucking into a falafel, on a plate, with a knife and fork. I was like David Cameron and his famous hot dog (just writing that makes me think of his other pork based activities, ugh). No, no, the reason was much more reasonable that that- the falafel (or falafol as the sign pronounced) was so badly wrapped that I couldn’t even pick it up.
It came as a mangled mess inside the wrapping, which itself was beautifully decorated with what I think was arabic writing. But what did it say?
Let me set the scene. I was feeling terrible, truth be told. I had crawled home from Mr Robert Thomas Hummus Ireland’s David Bowie themed birthday party at 6 in the morning, battered in many ways but especially by the cruel and unrelenting rain pissy winds. I woke up feeling typically shit. I flaked on all my promises for the day and lay about complaining and regretting my life choices, pausing only to make some biscuits which turned out a bit funny. By the time that evening came, I had recovered enough to need a falafel.
We went to the second closest place- the other one I had already reviewed – see post ‘Broken Window Pain’.
This one I had been saving for a while. Named The Grecian “Our aim is for you to enjoy our cuisine and smile” we at Rate My Falafel had heard reports that the staff were incredibly sexist. A good basis for a review, thought I. I sneaked my camera in so I could record any potentially sexist comments or leary glances but unfortunately in my weakened state I dropped it on the floor and the battery and fell out, making a loud crashing noise.
The man who had taken my order had a strange grin on his face and was menacingly sharpening his knife in front of the wood fire grill- swoosh, swoosh, swoosh. The staff- all men, of course- were wearing matching purple t – shirts and one had a ridiculous yellow square hat- the moodier one of the lot. Whilst we were waiting we witnessed the hard bartering tactics of this man- he managed to persuade an affable chap that he wanted 2 pizzas instead of only 1 The man left bemused, laden with 2 bags of chips, 2 pizzas and a worried expression. The falafol, reasonably priced at £2 but came to an alarming £3.60 when including hummus, came with the option of an array of saggy looking salad. I chose onion, tomato, jalapenos and lettuce- I could have also had coleslaw, cucumber and red cabbage.
Disappointingly, no lewd comments were made and they seemed pleasant, if slightly sullen. Perhaps the additional comment of ‘thanks darlin” could have been a little unnecessary, but on the whole, nothing to write home about it. Maybe the scrawled arabic writing was a sexist poem or something? I guess I’ll never know.
So I was eating it with a knife and fork. This was certainly not a good sign- that’s minus points straight away. The falafel itself was really rather flavoursome however, with a some of indian onion baji type reminiscence, with perhaps some onion in the flavouring. The hummus was nice but made the bread soggy, perhaps the cause of the need for knife and fork. Or maybe the chili sauce was too liberal. Or maybe the guy just couldn’t be arsed to wrap my falafel properly. Whatever the reason, I was bitterly disappointed.
2 Cromwell Road, St Andrews, Bristol, BS6 5AA
All in all-2/5
Value for money -£2 without the hummus, can’t really complain there, but if you’re on the go and need a falafel, this is not for you. It is impossible to eat and really rather messy.
UPDATE: a second falafel from the Grecian was bought by a RateMyFalafel reviewer. It was equally as shit.
It had been a disastrous few weeks in My New Bristol Life, with everything ranging from being fired in my first week of work, getting the clap…, getting caught shoplifting and breaking my own bedroom window. Read all about it here, in my other blog where I mainly complain about things.
However, I think you can all guess what my go to, fix all solution for these type of problems are. That’s right, it was time to try the local.
Whilst ruminating together on the unfortunate 4 milimetre difference in the glass we bought and the size of the window, the window of opportunity presented itself to grab a falafel and fill our bellies before what looked to be a much longer task than we had imagined. My friend, who had kindly offered to help fix my cracked pane, had convinced me that the job wouldn’t take more than a few hours. We cracked to it, running to the local shop for beers and then ordering a falafel and hummus wrap each. I stood in the falafel joint, which also sold the normal takeaway food stuffs- pizza, burgers, you know the type. It was well presented and clean, and the staff seemed friendly and courteous.
I had been putting off this trip for a while, to be perfectly frank. What if our local was no good? We would be forced to trek to the other one, the famous Biblos, which was a good extra 5 minutes away. (Review to come later).
I drummed my fingers impatiently and nervously took in the array of salads on offer. The normal stuff, lettuce, onion, tomato, Jalapeño peppers, and cucumber. I declined the cucumber but went for everything else. The hummus was dolloped on generously and the falafel was freshly fried, a light brown colour in the middle and roasted darker on the crusty top. There was one thing to note, however, whilst seeing the sandwich artist put together these falafel wraps. He was using some sort of ice cream cone to make the wrap! It was extraordinary.
Rushing back to the flat, we tested out the falafel. On biting in I was immediately impressed by the falafel itself. It tasted fresh, moist and delicious. The hummus had an almost nutty taste which was very complementary and the chilli sauce was not overly sloppy.
However, the wrap itself badly let the falafel down. We at RATEMYFALAFEL.COM take our task very seriously. We therefore sampled not 1, but 5 of these falafels over the course of the next week, getting everyone involved. We all came to the same conclusion. The wrapping, was shit. It just wasn’t wrapped properly, to the extent that falafel would fall out whilst eating, something that was prone to making a messy situation even messier.
Another RMF reviewer also commented that ‘as an onion lover, I have to say that there was far too much onion.’
That’s a wrap, folks. On to the Scores.
Royal Lebanese Kebab
15 Gloucester Rd, Bristol, Avon BS7 8AA
Salad- 3/5 (no olives)
Bread- 3/5 (standard bread, nought special there)
Falafel – 5/5 (v.good)
Service- 3/5 with a smile but minus points for the unnecessary ‘darlin’
Intoxication – 3/5
Minus 3 points for terrible wrapping job.
Needless to say, we smashed out the remaining window, which cut up all of my hand which then got infected, and I spent the next 4 days sleeping in a tent in my room as we unsuccessful chiselled out at of the window frame to fit the stupid glass in. I now have a partially functioning window, which I regard as a success.