Archive for the ‘ Lebanese ’ Category

Falafel O’Falafel

It’s not often that one comes across a pregnant woman in a wire cage, on a vacant site. But there she was …

Pregwomaninbox

… at the corner of Harcourt Road and South Richmond Street. She was there as part of the Dublin Live Art Festival. She seemed a lot more squished in when I saw her first. I think this is her relaxing.

O’Falafel, where I went on Friday for lunch is on South Richmond Street; the bit of it that forms two sides of a triangle at Kelly’s Corner. If you need a landmark, it’s near the Bernard Shaw pub (see below).

O’Falafel is new. And orange. Bright. Eye-catching.

Entrance

Interestingly, I had two emails last week from people who, in one case (Siobhan), lives in and in the other case (Ian) works in this area who suggested that I give O’Falafel a go. I was more than happy to.

O’Falafel opens onto both parts of South Richmond Street. Here’s the inside out:

Insideout

The last time I was in this space was when it was Grub Hub, and the bloke ‘serving’ was more interested in his mobile phone than in the only potential paying customer in the place.

O’Falafel was notably different and service was both swift and attentive. My questions were answered clearly and my order taken without fuss.

O’Falafel is open almost all the time. I’ve been trying to find them online to check but they don’t seem to be there. As far as I can remember, the pleasant young woman behind the counter said that they open at 7am on weekdays and close at something like 2am.

Inside, it’s small but clean. There are five or six small tables but my guess is that it’s really more of a take-away place than a sit-down place.

The menu is very tempting. Lebanese inspired, there was lots on it that I want to eat and I’ll be back to work my way through other bits of the menu in due course. Here it is. (Click to big up.)

Menu1

 

Menu2

As you see, there’s lots of choice for a fiver or thereabouts, and lots of tempting treats, including things like Halloumi (a packet of which resides in my fridge and will remain there until I work out what to do with it) and Fattoush (which I made once and is gorgeous).

I went for the Spicy Sujuk, mainly because I was intrigued by the idea of a filled falafel, something I haven’t encountered before.

My Spicy Sujuk came soon enough. The falafels, tomato, lettuce and pickles were wrapped in a flat bread which had then been heated in a panini grill. While I’m quite happy for my wrap not to be grilled, the grilling process makes it a little crispy which is nice, and it also makes the thing less susceptible to splitting open and depositing its contents on your lap.

Taste-wise it was good. A little over-dominated by the pickles and, although the title and description emphasise the work ‘spicy’, it wasn’t much. Let’s not be too critical here, however. The wrap was very substantial and tasty and, if all the food on the menu is a) made with such care and b) as filling and tasty as this wrap then O’Falafel is exceedingly good value for money.

Pretty well stuffed, I paid and left, feeling that this was €4.50 well spent. Give it a try.

Wandering down Harcourt Road, I noticed that Soup Stop, which I wrote about some time ago, hasn’t reopened since it closed its doors a month or so ago. That’s a pity but around this area there are now quite a few nice cheap places to eat and drink coffee in, and South Richmond Street itself which has looked a little messy in the past is now getting interesting.

I mentioned the Bernard Shaw above. Here it is …

TheBS

I’ve always liked the look of this place, and the street art around it but I’ve felt this weird reluctance to go into it for a drink. I somehow always feel that I’m too old and dressed in the wrong clothes.

It has a sibling however, which is gorgeous. It’s the MVP on Clanbrassil Street, beside where the Man of Achill used to be, on the right as you go up the hill to cross over the canal bridge heading from town towards Harold’s Cross. I spent a very pleasant Friday night there a few weeks ago in the company of a couple of old pals. It’s got two floors, is basic but atmospheric, has lovely staff and mixes real cocktails. Well worth a go.

 

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Bah! Stodge.

I don’t want to be unfair here to The Cedar Tree in St Andrew’s Street, Dublin because first, it’s a nice looking place (inside) and second, it’s got overwhelmingly positive reviews for its food on Tripadvisor and other sites. My lunch here today, however, was disappointing.

outer

Thanks to a tip from Cici in a comment left on eatforafiver a few weeks ago, I decided to try it today at lunchtime. The lunch menu is posted outside …

lunchmenu

The wrap choice is Shawarma Beef, Shawarma Chicken, Falafel and Kafta. I’d had enough meat this week so I decided before I went in to have the Falafel one.

The Cedar Tree is quite big, seating about 50-60 at a guess. Muted lighting, Middle-Eastern music, these …

wall

 

… on the walls and mosaic inlaid tables contribute to a pleasant ambience. I got there at just after 1.30pm and the place was pretty full. Interestingly (to me, anyway) there were more women wearing hijabs and niqabs than I have ever seen in a restaurant before.

I was shown to a table and handed a laminated menu. On the menu the price shown for the wraps was €5.50. I asked about this, and was assured that they were actually €4.95.

I ordered and waited. On the menu, the Falafel Wrap was described as including ‘tomato, radishes, pickles, parsley and tahini sauce’. Sounded good.

It arrived.

wrapwhole

 

I took it out of its wrapper and broke it open to look inside.

wrapinside

 

It was unusual in that the outside was crisp, as if it had been toasted after having been wrapped. This gave it a crunchy texture which was quite pleasant.

The falafel wraps I’ve had in the past have comprised falafels, the quite dense texture of which has been contrasted with the freshness of its accompaniments (usually vegetables of some sort) and the moist tanginess of a sauce. The overall effect has been one of reasonably balanced flavours and a variety of textures.

This wrap had neither, sad to say. It was stodgy. There’s no other word for it. I came across a faint taste of tahini in the first bite but didn’t taste it in the remainder of the wrap. I didn’t find much tomato and the tomato I did find didn’t taste of tomato. There were some pink slivers of something in it (radishes? pickles?) but they didn’t really taste of much either and they had certainly lost any crunchy sharpness that they might previously have had. Near the middle, I think I saw some parsley but I didn’t taste it. It was filling. But it was also stodgy. And disappointing.

But as I said at the start, I don’t want to be unfair to The Cedar Tree because of this one wrap. Maybe falafel wraps aren’t really their forte. The other items on the lunch menu look pretty good value and the place was pretty busy with (mainly) groups of diners all chatting and munching away. In other words, don’t write it off just because of my impression of the wrap.

Just around the corner, at the junction of Trinity Street and Dame Street is the shop that feeds my fountain pen habit: The Pen Corner. If you share my pen habit (or even if you don’t) have a look at the Yelp reviews of this place: here. If you’re looking for more pen (and who wouldn’t), take a look at this site: Pen Addict. (By the way, I can handle my pen use. I can use a biro whenever I want. I choose to use a fountain pen. Honestly.)

Lamy.

Mmmmm.

pencorner

Rotana Cafe

South Richmond Street will be forever tattooed on my memory as the place where I had my first motorbike crash. I wasn’t hurt but the bike (a humble Yamaha 50) was wrecked. I wasn’t much of a motorbike rider anyway.

That was 1979. I’m a bit older now but South Richmond Street doesn’t look all that different. The Rotana Café is at the canal end, beside Christy Bird’s antique shop. I had thought of having lunch there yesterday, but it doesn’t open till 4.30pm on Mondays.

 

The Rotana Café

 

Today at lunchtime, I was accompanied by son no. 1, a strapping lad who works out his aggression on the rugby pitch. He takes a lot of feeding so I thought he’d be a good measure of the fill-value of what we might order.

Rotana, a Lebanese restaurant, is attractive and kind of homely on the inside. There were three tables occupied when we got there, by local office workers at a guess. Middle-Eastern music was playing and a very smiley waiter handed us menus.

There is a great selection of what, on the menu, are termed ‘Light Bites’, priced at around €4.50 or less. They include falafel, hommous, moutabel, baba ganouj, stuffed vine leaves and so on. There are also some Lebanese salads for about the same price. And they have a set lunch menu for €10.90 (starter and a main course). You’ll find details on their website (www.rotanacafe.ie)

Having been tempted initially by the thought of a salad, the word ‘lamb’ caught my eye and I opted for a ‘Light Bite’ called Sambousek Lamb, at €4.50.

There was a Falafel Sandwich on the menu for €5.40, but Tom rather cleverly spotted that one could order 4 falafels with a side order of pitta bread for €4.65, and make one’s own falafel sandwich. And so that’s what he did. We also ordered tap water, which came in a nice stoppered bottle.

My Sambousek Lamb, as you’ll see, comprised 5 mini filo rolls stuffed with delicately spiced minced lamb. they came with a garnish and a small ramekin with commercially produced sweet chilli sauce. The rolls were tasty but the sauce was too sweet and overpowered the lamb. Something light and minty might have been better.

My Sambousek Lamb

Tom won out here. His falafel were substantial and came with a garnish and a thin tahini sauce. His pitta bread was plentiful and thin and he was able to combine the dishes to make some decent looking (and decent tasting) sandwiches. Tom, as I’ve said, takes a lot of feeding and he professed himself to be quite satisfied with the amount of food he received.

Tom's Falafel

 

Tom's pitta bread

And the bill? Light on the wallet at €9.15 for the two of us. Pretty good, although I have to say that I was a bit hungry later in the afternoon.

 

 

Rotana is somewhere I’d like to return to at a later date perhaps free of the eatforafiver constraints. The regular menu selection is mouth-watering and they also offer Shisha, which I’d like to try.

There are a few other restaurants/ eateries/ take-aways on South Richmond Street, including the Aprile, the first chipper I ever went to. Two places offer things like chicken shawarma and chips, or burger and chips, or other things and chips for a fiver but they don’t look that inviting or, it has to be said, that clean, which is a bit offputting.

Down towards Kelly’s Corner, The Bernard Shaw pub offers a salad of the day for a fiver. This is a pub I want to visit soon and not just for the salad. I follow it on Twitter and it has an intriguing programme of music, theatre and art, and a rather enlightened view of the use of street art for promotion and politics.

Right where the Rotana is now, there used to be another antique shop, specialising in old fireplaces. Soon after we had moved to our current house, I went in to have a browse. The prices seemed a little steep and I asked the man running the shop what I might get for £150. ‘F*ckin’ abuse’, was his considered response.

 

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