Archive | June, 2012

Classic Falafel Wrap at Mr. Falafel, Shepherd’s Bush

18 Jun

LOCATION: Mr. Falafel, Units T4 – T5, New Shepherd’s Bush Market, Uxbridge Road, W12 8LH [map]

PRICE: £5.00 (for the XL size)

BREAD: Hollyland flatbread

FILLING: Five falafels, hummus, fried aubergine slices, pickled cucumbers, pickled turnips, lettuce, tomato, green chilli sauce, red chilli sauce, tahini sauce, parsley. Phew.

PROS: I am forever chasing the perfect falafel. I thought I’d found it once, unexpectedly, at um, Bestival, in um, some year or other I can’t remember, they blur into one. Festival food in general is rubbish and expensive as I’m sure you know but this falafel wrap…sigh. I probably hadn’t eaten in a while, granted and it was the middle of the night in the middle of a field but it was just so perfect at that point in time, not to mention restorative. Mr. Falafel is also very good, but I fear he does live somewhat in the shadow of Festival Falafel. Unfortunate really because it can’t possibly have been all that.

Anyway, Mr.F is serving really good and proper Palestinian falafel, definitely some of the best I’ve had in London. The place is a little hut, really, right on the end of Shepherd’s Bush Market. There are a few shabby tables and an incredibly lovely, friendly man cooking. I watched as he used his nifty little scooper thing to mould balls of chickpea mix and pop them out into the fryer. Five of those in the XL size wrap, really light (as falafels should be) with lots of flavour from good quality chickpeas. This means they’re not over-spiced to compensate. The hummus is as smooth as Marvin Gaye dressed in silk stroking a baby’s bottom. Eww. Sorry. Mr. Falafel also spoils us with not one kind of pickle but two, cucumber and turnip; as a pickle fiend this pleases me. Also, everything is just so damn FRESH. We just can’t stop banging on about how flippin fresh tasting the whole thing is, me and my mate and believe me, the word fresh can really make a mess if spoken repeatedly through mouthfuls of mashed up chickpea. The tahini sauce is good too, not bullying and cloying as it can be. The fried aubergine slices are obviously a stroke of genius and a generous gesture, I think, considering this is the standard wrap and it’s massive. The liberal use of fresh parsley is a nice touch and something I now consider essential; it really does make the whole thing rather um…rifles through list of adjectives…oh fuck it, fresh.

CONS: I used to live in Shepherd’s Bush and yet I never discovered this place (actually I used to live in West Kensington but I never came to terms with that so I always lied and said I lived in Shepherd’s Bush, partly due to the fact I was terrified I’d end up calling it ‘West Ken’ like a massive tosser). Yesterday it took me an hour and a half to get there from Peckham, although I did discover that the Hammersmith and City line genuinely exists as part of the tube network. All this is not Mr. Falafel’s fault of course, I’m just having a moan. His hot chilli sauce isn’t hot however. I asked for this first but then decided I had to have both hot and mild, yet still picked up barely a prickle. Next time I’ll ask Mr. Falafel (he has a real name I’m sure and I wonder if he is this man) to put one of the pickled chillies that come as garnish inside the wrap. He’d do that, because he’s very nice. I know this from his general demeanour and the fact that he invited me behind the counter so I could more easily take the picture you see above. ‘Wasn’t he nice?’ We kept saying, me and my mate. ‘Wasn’t he a lovely nice friendly man?’ It took him a good, what, 7 minutes or so to make the sandwich, what with it being all so erm, fresh and all, and in that 7 minutes he really made an impression on us. He just had the air of someone who is a genuinely happy person and it made the whole experience even more enjoyable. He wished us a good day and he meant it. Awesome guy,  kick ass falafel.

SCORE: 8/10 

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Meat Sandwich at Wild Caper, Brixton

9 Jun

LOCATION: Wild Caper, Unit 11a, Brixton Market Row, SW9 8LB [map]

PRICE: Yeah so I can’t remember and I need to pay more attention, about £4.50? £5 (think I would have noticed if it was more than a fiver although possibly not). Sorry.

BREAD: Flat bread pitta thingy made from sourdough starter.

FILLING: Chorizo, red pesto, ricotta, salad leaves, some kind of sprout jobbies. It’s genuinely just called ‘meat sandwich’ by the way, as I guess the meat varies. There are also veggie and fishy options.

PROS: There’s so much going on in this sandwich; it shouldn’t work but it does. The chorizo is very good quality indeed, not spicy but really packing the funk of hog. Generous amount too. Ricotta is not something I’d ever really put next to sausage or indeed in a sandwich but it works well as a spread actually, having more substance than mayo or some such and none of the greasiness. There’s red pesto too. I know. I mean, pesto and chorizo and ricotta, have you gone batshit mental? It’s not crappy metallic tasting pesto though; it’s rich with tomato and nuts. I was actually digging it. The leaves are just leaves but then the lady poured dressing on them. Nice touch. The bread though…oh the bread, it’s just staggeringly good. It’s made from a Neopolitan mother sourdough starter and is baked in the Franco Manca pizza ovens daily (Wild Caper and FM are owned by the same people – I am assured this is ‘more or less’ true – and I imagine it’s the same starter they use for the pizza bases). Yesterday’s bread is sold off at half price on a separate shelf so it’s always incredibly fresh. I had flour all over my face, hands, keyboard (working lunch). Wild Caper are making some of the best bread in London and that is no exaggeration. Respect.

CONS: The sprout thingies…I’m not a fan. They’re fine and everything, as things that exist in the world but I don’t want them in my sandwich. Firstly, they look weird, like tadpoles. There’s something a touch foetal about them like they’re in their infancy…oh wait. They’re lumpy and their fresh pea-like flavour doesn’t really work for me. There was a big cluster of them in the middle of the sandwich which I actually didn’t mind too much as it made them easier to get rid of. I’d like something else subbed for texture though. Also, there is a lot going on in this sandwich. I mean I know I’ve said it works and all but still. I get uneasy about these things.

SCORE: 7/10. Nah sod it they can have an 8 because the bread is out of this world. 8/10.