Sunday, May 19, 2013

vFalafel Food Review

Regular Falafel sandwich + Fries

Friendly Falafel

I can't imagine life as a vegetarian (yet alone a vegan) but if push ever came to shove, I know what my new "go to" food would be... falafel. Deep-fried chickpeas (or fava beans) may not match the magic of a Roy Rogers hamburger; but every now and then, it's nice to mix things up. DC is fast becoming a culinary metropolis, and has its fair share of falafel outlets. I stopped by Dupont Circle institution vFalafel at 2157 P Street, NW for a late lunch this afternoon, and walked away impressed by friendly service and fair falafel.

"Fair" isn't the kind of ringing endorsement restaurants seek out; but I'd be lying if I said the food at vFalafel was top notch. The shop was empty a few minutes after two; as I walked in on the owner mopping his floor. He couldn't have been nicer; but the smell of bleach isn't something one wants to get a whiff of, before ordering lunch. I held my breath, and ordered a regular falafel sandwich + fries + can soda ($8.95 + tax.) My order didn't take long to arrive (about three minutes) and I know why: Nothing sends my taste buds running (away) like the sound of a microwave.

(Microwave door open.) Beep. Beep. Beep. (Microwave door open again.) More beeps. Who's doing the cooking? My ex-girlfriend? I received a basket of fries (burned to heck) and a pita pocket loaded with five small falafel discs. Toppings are self-serving and there are plenty of options. I stuck to the basics... diced tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and some cherry peppers for heat. It was nice outside, so I took my lunch to the outdoor dining area. This way, I avoided the lingering odor of the aforementioned bleach and the sight of water-damaged ceiling tiles (this place could benefit from some sort of refurbishment.) Sadly, I had to bid adieu to the owner, who couldn't have been more hospitable or nicer. It's rare indeed to have any sort of conversation with a food server; but this guy makes you feel like you're visiting his home for Sunday dinner. Customer service = A.

Unfortunately, you can't eat customer service. The fries were awful (no salt, burned in old oil.) The falafel was nice & salty with a good crunch. The toppings were fine; but I couldn't get over the fact that the falafel was nuked. I don't think it's too much to ask, to drop five pieces of falafel in a deep fryer. There's a clear difference in taste (even more crunch, not to mention piping hot!) My pita sandwich still satisfied; but I probably won't come back for seconds. If fast, kind service is your thing... vFalafel hits the spot: Trouble is, my tummy needs/wants all the love for itself.