View from a professional – Mezze Palace

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).

Jpeg

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.

Jpeg

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?

Jpeg

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.

The Ratings

Falafel – 2/5

Hummus – 5/5

Bread – 4/5

Service – 2/5

Ambience – 4/5

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

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?

IMG_20170329_124410

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. 

IMG_20170329_121052

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!

 

 

You are free. Time to eat falafel.

*Many Thanks to our guest writer for this greece-y review.

Ntoneradiko authentikon

Exarchia

Athens

This ‘authentic’ establishment proudly sits itself in Exarchia, the ‘anarchist district’ of

Athens. Even Exarchia’s name conjures anarchism – ‘ex’ denoting getting rid of something (a relationship, a species), and ‘archy’ connoting images of order and power (patriarchy, hierarchy, manarchy). The hierarchies of the racist, patriarchal, heteronormative capitalist world no longer exist in Exarchia. You are free. Time to eat falafel.

falafel ollie pic 1   falafal ollie pic 2

falafel ollie pic 3

The anarchism of Exerchia can be seen in all the far-left graffiti that plasters every orifice of the area. These are some of my favourite examples.

While not strictly a felafel joint, immediately when I walked in and howled the only Greek word I know (like the lazy colonialist I am), ‘hortophagos’ (vegetarian), the owner responded with ‘felafel!’. I knew we’d get on. Indeed, we got on so much that we came here literally every night of our trip. Sometimes we didn’t even eat here, but we’d established ourselves as such regulars that we could freely use the toilets whilst we drank bizarre sweet Greek cider or super-cheap wine in the main square.

olli falafel 4 ollie falafel picture 5

But this was not merely a marriage of convenience. The falafel is incredible. For some reason, green-coloured falafel always tastes best for me, and this was no exception. Perhaps its delicious nature was boosted by the fact it provided a break from the excessive excess and over-reliance on individual flavours that characterises most Greek food. But seriously, the green felafel has it all. Punch, warmth, depth, passion, rigour, emotion, clarity. The rest of the wrap didn’t disappoint. Greeks seem fond of putting chips in wraps, which is a welcome addition, although by the end of the week I wondered if, in terms of texture, the chips gave the structure of the wrap too much of a burden. The salad was strong: lots of raw onions also help, with their long-lasting flavour. The tahini sauce was unnecessarily harsh, but the tzatziki was incredible, so we got that every time.

falafel ollie 6

The best thing about this place, and Exerchia in general, is that everything is really cheap. Perhaps that’s my privileged isolation from Greece’s economic crisis talking – of course things will be cheap. But a 500ml bottle of wine is €1, which is about 75p. The felafel, at least compared to London, is really cheap – £4 average in London, but £1.50 here (€2). I was happy at the difference.

One strange thing about this place is the older guy who seems to be the manager. He doesn’t really do anything, just stands around looking vaguely content. We definitely didn’t make any ironic far-left jokes about Greece’s economy failing because lazy Greeks like him don’t work hard. Not at all.

Felafel wrap – 4.5/5

Value for money – 4.5/5

Atmosphere – 5/5 (you’re in Exarchia!)

10/10 would go again