Middle Eastern Classic
NY Falafel Bar
72-32 Austin St., Forest Hills
Cuisine: Glatt Kosher Israeli / Middle Eastern
Hours: Sun-Thu 11 am-9 pm, Fri 11 am to 2 hours before Shabbat
Credit Cards: All major
Situated on Austin Street’s busy commercial strip, NY Falafel Bar is a standard take-out sized space, with bar-style seating, smart brick walls and decidedly non-falafel music on a recent Friday afternoon.
With Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean” blasting, a guest and I perused the menu, a comfortable mix of the familiar and exotic. Favoring paper menus over the neatly printed chalkboard on display above the counter, we settled on a variety of mostly new-to-us treats.
Waiting for our meal, which was quickly placed and served, we noticed that the counter features a dazzling array of sauces and spreads, and overlooks the comfortingly clean kitchen.
A falafel snob, I had to try the restaurant’s namesake, a crisp, bite size affair that was well spiced, with a hint of the cumin and lemon I love. New to what I have long considered a delicacy, my guest quickly finished them off.
Along with our falafel was a plate of dipping sauces: hot sauce, hummus, baba ghanoush and more, all of which we used to top our falafel. The hot sauce was suitably hot. In the words of my guest, “the hot sauce says, ‘Yeah, I’m here.’” The hummus had a subtle flavor that did not overpower the chickpeas.
About the baba ghanoush: creamy, eggplanty goodness that was perfect with the warm, fluffy fresh pita. This must be tried.
Unlike some establishments, the sauces are made from scratch, with huge vats of chickpeas boiling overnight before being ground to a tasty paste, a fact I was glad to learn. There’s no other way to make falafel.
Next up was the Shawarma, which features tender morsels of baby chicken, served with a mango pickle sauce, a culinary concoction that tastes like a spicy pickle.
The Spicy Schnitzel, strips of breaded chicken flecked with a generous amount of red pepper flakes, was not too spicy for my heat loving palate, and we liked it best without any sauce.
Four-piece Moroccan Cigars find a crunchy taquito-like roll stuffed with beef and served with tahini. Yummy with or without the sauce, would that I had no guest I would have finished them on my own. Hmmph. Stupid guest.
Kube, bulgar stuffed with ground beef and also served with tahini, is a fragrant, savory sweet delight.
For the less adventurous, NY Falafel Bar offers up the usual American lunchtime stock, curly fries – which we tried and enjoyed – beef burger and hot pastrami sandwiches, which we did not order and trust them to do right.
Though well-stuffed, I made room for dessert.
Requesting the baklava, I was delighted to discover they offer a variety. Forgive my ignorance, but I had not realized baklava comes with a choice. Not content with just one kind, I tried them all, a decision I would recommend. Fresh and dripping with honey, yet not overpoweringly sweet.
With prices that range from $3.95 for an appetizer to $13.95 for a platter, NY Falafel Bar is worth the trip.