Still Alive!

Hey folks, I am still alive and the site is still running just a busy time of year. I haven’t been eating as much Falafel as I’d like to be eating. That’ll all change soon though. Looking forward to getting back at it! Mark

IFI Cafe (Eustace St)

The IFI Cafe is an old favourite of mine. I like their wooden benches, having a pint before a film and their very tasty food. I’ve been in there a fair bit over the years and have enjoyed their goujons, chicken wings, huge nachos and burgers. In fact I’d rate their food pretty highly, so when I heard they had a falafel I was keen to get in their and see how it rated. Unfortunately it was a disappointing experience.

IFI Cafe

Flavour: 6.5/10 The falafel was nice but nothing special. It didn’t really have any strong taste and was a little bland. They were nicely cooked but just lacked a discernible flavour. They came on a plain white pita.

Fillings & Sauces: 6.5/10 The falafel came with a small side salad that had the tiniest squirt of salad dressing on it. The beetroot was delicious and the few tomatoes were nice too but a lot of the lettuce in the salad was bone dry like it had been sitting around for a while. The garlic aioli was fine. It too lacked any decent kick. Another sauce would’ve been really nice.

IFI Falafel

Presentation & Value: 6.5/10 The meal looked appetising without being anything special. And the same could be said for the price – it was €7.65 for the falafel and a small, unimaginative salad. That’s not cheap but not gonna break the bank either!

Overall Rating: 6.5/10 I was left feeling completely ‘meh’ about my IFI falafel experience. I don’t know if it was just a bad day – the place was busy with the Cafe booked out for a private gig (we ate in the foyer). I’ve eaten lovely meals in there before… Maybe falafel just isn’t their thing. Anyways, I tweeted my thoughts about it’s blandness and they replied apologising and asking what they could improve… Well – more taste in the falafel, more thought in the salad and maybe another sauce to compliment the aioli. Here’s hoping this was just an off day!

Website: http://www.ifi.ie/cafebar

Taste Food Company & Bistro Cafe (Sth William St)

I’d heard mixed reviews about Taste Cafe and wasn’t all that fussed about eating in there, which in hindsight, isn’t the most fair way to approach a review of somewhere, but it’s the truth. It was lunch time on a week day and town was sunny and jammed. I went in to get a table and the restaurant was completely full – a good sign! – so I came back 45mins later. I got a nice table down the back of the restaurant and ordered the falafel with chips and a cup of tea. I was starving.

Taste Shopfront

Flavour: 8.5/10 The falafels were really tasty. They make them on site and they were perfectly cooked – not over done but warm and crunchy all the same. There were lots of them too and each had a lovely blast of chickpea, corriander and sesame. Really nice falafel!

Fillings & Sauces: 8.5/10 I was surprised when I got stuck into the falafel that the main taste I got from it was Mexican! The wrap was full of deliciously fresh pico de gallo salsa – chopped tomatoes, white onion, lots of corriander, soem chillies and even a little garlic. It had a great zing to it and was perfectly offset by the tahini sauce. Added to the above was a small salad which was tasty (even if it contained my archnemesis – the black olive).

Taste Falafel

Presentation & Value: 7.5/10 The presentation was lovely. It looked as well as it tasted. The plate had been thought out and well served to look really appetising – even with the chips I shouldn’t have ordered! It was expensive though with €2 added on for chips (or a side salad) the total (not including my tea) was €10.50, which for a 1 plate lunch is too much in my eyes.

Overall Rating: 8/10 Taste surprised me and pleased me. I had a really nice lunch, some excellent flavours and served by friendly staff. The price will probably keep me away, but I’d still be interested by some of the other food on their menu. Worth a look, especially for the Mexican twist on the falafel, something I haven’t seen/tasted before, and that worked really well!

Website: http://www.tastecatering.ie

Fumbally Cafe (Fumbally Lane)

Of all the places I’ve been encouraged to try out, Fumbally Café is probably the one I’ve heard the most about. Between the design of the place, the staff that work there and the menu – it had been made out to be some sort of modern café paradise blending fashion, design, good food and a friendly welcome! In hindsight, I should’ve listened to people a lot sooner! I wasn’t certain where I was going but when I arrived, the café I walked into was open plan, warm and buzzing. People shared tables with strangers, there was some good music on and the room was alive. It immediately made me want to stay. After figuring out I’d be sharing a table, I went to order at the counter. The menu looked good and I was starving so I got a cup of soup and ordered the falafel plate. The guy misheard me and took for a falafel wrap, but I decided it’d probably be more than enough with the soup and some tea. Plus it saved me €2 (that I later spent on a bloody fantastic flapjack).

Fumbally Shopfront

Flavour: 10/10 The Fumbally falafels were absolutely delicious. Not overcooked, not too soft and full of lots of flavour – chickpea, sesame seeds, garlic and lots of herbs – each little ball (and there were lots of them) tasted amazingly. I am yet to taste a nicer falafel in Dublin. I spoke to one of the chefs afterwards and they said them make them in the cafe each week. She talked me through the ingredients and was genuinely delighted I’d enjoyed it. Next time I’m in there I’m going to try and blag the recipe! On an aside, the soup was equally perfect. Celeriac and apple with toasted walnut garnish. Yum!

Fillings & Sauces: 9.5/10 The falafel wrap was served with lots of fillings and four (!) types of sauces. Fresh cabbages, lettuce, cucumber, beetroot and tomatoes made up the juicy fillings and the sauces were tahini, tzatziki, a warm red chilli sauce and lashings of hummus! It made for a really tasty, messy and fresh wrap.

Fumbally Falalfel

Presentation & Value: 9/10 The presentation wasn’t special (I would imagine the falafel plate looks prettier) but it didn’t need to be with the flavour that followed. The wrap came on a nice wooden board and, well, wrapped, which helped given how juicy the warp was. In terms of value, it was amazing – an absolute steal at €5!! The plate was €7, so either option really is excellent.

Overall Rating: 9.5/10 This was the best falafel I have tasted in Dublin. And along with the taste, the amazing fillings, the freshness of everything I was served and the great value came a welcoming, well designed cafe with friendly staff. I won’t just be back, I’ll be back as often as I can.

Website: http://thefumbally.ie/

Beirut Express (Dame St)

A week ago now myself and my girlfriend went to Beirut Express on Dame Street to suss out their falafel. I arrived late, in a bit of panic, but stepped into a lovely and calm oasis of a restaurant, greeted and seated by a nice waitress. We were both starving and ordered the vegetarian menu for two which came in at €38 in total. It included a variety of starters, mains, some baklawa for desert and tea or coffee and was worth every penny. We left satisfied, having tasted lots of new combinations of flavours and  promised we’d be back soon, only with more people next time and maybe to try the meat and fish options. Anyway, back to the falafel.

BeirutExpress Shopfront

Flavour: 8/10 The falafel balls were crunchy and very tasty – lots of different flavours included chickpea, coriander, sesame seeds and more. They were served as part of our main and came with some thin freshly cooked wholegrain naan.

Fillings & Sauces: 8/10 The falafels came served with hummus with a little chili powder and some fresh chickpeas garnishing is and was delicious. There was a small amount of chopped red onion, lots of fresh coriander, some pickled vegetable and a few slices of tomato. A generous bowl of tahini cam with it too.

BeirutExpress Falafel

Value and Presentation: 7/10 Everything was served in traditional earthenware dishes or various shapes and sizes which was a very nice touch. The portions were a decent size too and the garnishes looked appetising, not forced. As for value, well for our meal overall we felt it was very good but for the falafel main course the cost was €10.90, not the cheapest of vegetarian options.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10 Perhaps it was that the starters and the vegetable moussaka that made up the other half of our main were so good. Perhaps it was the little lack of spiciness to counter the hummus. Perhaps it was the very small amount of salad and fillings. Whatever it was, the overall rating left a little to be desired. Don’t get me wrong – these are good falafels, they’re just not great falafels! I’ll be back though, the rest of the meal was very, very memorable.

On an aside, they do BYOB with a very cheap corkage (which we didn’t know until we overheard a neighbouring table!).

Website: http://beirutexpress.wix.com/

Zaytoons (Lower Camden St)

Zaytoons Persian Cuisine restaurant has for a long time been regarded as one of the best kebab shops in Dublin. Indeed, very few rival it with only Kebabish and Keyif springing to my mind. In 2001 they opened their doors in the centre of Temple Bar (Parliament St) with the lofty goal of ‘returning the poor down-trodden and much maligned kebab back to the meal that it is across the middle east’ and quickly showed Dublin that the late night kebabs we ate weren’t a patch on the fresh Taftoon (Persian flatbread) and freshly cooked and served kebabs on offer in Zaytoons. However, until very recently they have never sold falafels, instead offering vegetarian or fish (skewered salmon) kebabs for non-meat eaters. That has now changed, so in I went over the weekend to see how the falafel stood up to what else was on offer in Dublin.

I went to the Camden Street Zaytoons as it’s easier for me to get to. It looks sort of rammed in between two other buildings but inside it’s big and comfortable. They even had a waitress serving tables, which isn’t something I’ve seen before in there. There were also lots of tourists there, possibly because of how popular it is on TripAdvisor

ZaytoonsShopfront

Flavour: 8.5/10 Much like over at Ephesus, the falafel was made up of small falafel rings – like mini-donuts. They were absolutely delicious (again), if slightly overcooked this time around. They were served on what makes Zaytoons excellent, in my opinion, the freshly-baked flatbread or Taftoon as it’s known! Warm, doughy but thin and full of flavour, you could probably eat it on its own! Despite the delicious flavour, the falafels are most likely bought elsewhere (given they are the exact same as the ones in Ephesus) but I didn’t get a chance to ask. Will report back once I find out! On an aside, I ordered chips with mine and they were cold, as in they’d been sitting there for 5mins at least. They replaced them and apologised profusely.

Fillings & Sauces: 9.5/10 I was called to the counter as they added sauce to the falafel to be asked what I’d like –  a nice touch. The red, light chili sauce was already on the falafel and to it I added everything but olives –  fresh tomatoes, less fresh lettuce, red onions, red cabbage and some fresh chillis (which I regretted and had to remove!). Garlic sauce added as well and it was delicious! Close to perfect…

ZaytoonsFalafel

Presentation & Value: 9/10 The presentation was very good. Laid out on the flatbread and carefully put together so as to actually look appealing, the falafel looked delicious. In terms of value, it was very good – €6 for the falafel alone or €8.50 for a meal (chips and water/soft drink). Given how good the bread is, I’d recommend avoiding chips – not needed at all.

Overall Rating: 9/10 So much about this meal was spot on – the flavours, the bread, the venue and the value – the one thing I’m not sure about is why they don’t make their own falafel. Hopefully I’m wrong and the falafel rings are home made but it doesn’t look that way. That said, top marks across the board makeds this a must for falafel lovers…

Website: http://www.zaytoon.ie

Umi Falafel (Dame St)

Umi Falafel is a brand new falafel bar on Dame Street, opposite the Olympia Theatre. It opened last week and before shooting a gig (Bonobo photos here!) I went in with my brother to see what they were about. It was only when I overheard the waitress say that they’d been open for just 2 days that I realised reviewing the place as they were still teething was probably unfair. (I recently read that there’s an unspoken rule not to review restaurants until they’ve been open a month). However, the meal we had was delicious, so no harm done! The fact that it’ll probably be even better next time is a great incentive for me to re-visit.

Upon sitting we were given a small bowl of olives and welcomed warmly by the waitress who was both friendly and attentive during the meal. She was at pains to point out that any and all feedback would be listened to and that they were really keen to take all advice on board. She also recommended that we get the feta and spinach filo rolls which were incredible, so she won us over easily!

Umi Shopfront

Flavour: 8.5/10 There’s a choice of falafels – the Palestinian (in a pitta/’pocket’) or the Lebanese (in a wrap). Both come with different fillings but the same falafel. The falafel was lovely – warm, crunchy and a decent sized portion. It tasted nice and fresh.

Fillings & Sauces: 8/10 The Palestinian falafel came with an interesting seslction of fillings – hummus, tomato, fried aubergine, pikcles and a chili sauce. They worked well together but it was a little dry. The Lebanese falafel came with a tahini sauce and no aubergine and was also tasty but a touch on the dry side. We mentioned it to the waitress and to the chatty manager when paying. He said it’s always difficult to get the amount of sauce right – not wanting to flood the food but avoiding it being dry as well… I recommend a sauce on the side approach for those who like a saucier falafel! Speaking of sides, the Batata Hara were amazing. Don’t miss out!

Umi Falalfel

Presentation & Value: 8/10 Both falafels were neatly and simply presented (as were the side dishes we ordered). I’m not a big fan of parceled food but it did help with the tidy eating of it. And at a steal of €6 for each falafel the value was obvious.

Overall Rating: 8/10 I was really impressed with Umi Falafal. Like I said already it’s early days for Umi, and perhaps reviewing so quickly show a certain naivety on my part but the signs are great – really good staff, very tasty falafel and a focus on variety of tastes across the menu. With bang for your buck as well, they’re going to make a very positive impact on vegetarian dining in Dublin! Looking forward to my next visit already.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UmiFalafel