Original Falafel at Just Falafel, Covent Garden

17 Jul

LOCATION: Just Falafel, 1 Monmouth St, London, Greater London WC2H 9DA [map]

PRICE: I can’t remember and there are no prices on the website. Weird.

BREAD: Saj (that’s a Lebanese flatbread).

FILLING: Falafel, cucumber pickles, turnip pickles, parsley, mint, tomato, tahini dressing.

PROS: I’ve been sitting here fretting over this sandwich. Just Falafel are a chain, and an incredibly successful one. They’re huge in the Middle East. Huge. The reason I’m fretting is because it is precisely these chainlike characteristics that make me at once like and dislike their sandwiches. I’m not going to lie, I’ve been invited by the PR. He is there. He tries to push the healthy fast food angle on the falafels. I tell him I don’t care about that. He looks puzzled and orders baked falafels rather than fried. No. I’m thinking ‘has he actually seen my blog?!’ at which point he says that he hasn’t actually seen my blog.

The baked falafel, is, predictably, inferior to the fried. They’re crumbly and soft and obviously lacking in the essential and most endearing quality of falafel – biting through the freshly fried crust. A fried falafel is duly ordered. And you know what? They’re not bad, actually. Not bad at all. The herbs are perky fresh too, as is the salad. The pickled turnips have that brilliant purple/pink hue that make me think I must be getting radiation poisoning; this uses the same logic as the reasoning behind my not standing next to the microwave at work because it ‘makes a funny noise’ and I fear it may make me infertile.

CONS: There is a condiment ‘situation’. We order a side of hummus; always a good test of a place. It’s silky smooth and actually really bloody good, except there’s nothing to dip in it. I end up eating hummus with a plastic spoon. There are pots of other dips and spreads too, and I wonder if I’m supposed to put these in the sandwiches? That’s impossible though, because the wrap is very tightly wrapped, which is obviously a good thing when it comes it being just a sandwich, but when it has become an exercise in finding new ways to eat hummus, well, somewhat of a hindrance to say the least. I think perhaps you can buy the falafels separately, or with fries and then…dip either the falafel or the fries in the hummus? I dunno.

You could do a lot worse than a falafel from Just Falafel ( the ‘original’ – I’ve not mentioned the ‘Greek’, ‘Japanese’, ‘Italian’, ‘Indian’ etc. variations – hold me) but then really, what kind of endorsement is that?

SCORE: 4/10


19 Responses to “Original Falafel at Just Falafel, Covent Garden”

  1. Hungry July 17, 2013 at 11:50 am #

    Baked? Bleugh.
    For my money, the best falafel is town is Pilpel – their falafel are crispy on the outside, tasty on the inside. It comes with hummous, tabbouli, and all sorts of frankly amazing salads which you can have all or some off (erm, everything for me obvs). They are pretty much always busy, so the salads are always fresh and the falafel freshly fried and hot. And there’s chilli sauce and tahini. It’s my favourite. that’s all i’m saying. Apart from that it’s yummy. If you’re in the city

    • londonreviewofsandwiches July 17, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

      Fab! Thanks for the tip off, I shall try it out.

    • donald July 17, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

      Is Pilpel the place that’s just off Spitalfields?

  2. eddichen July 17, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

    There’s a street stall not far on Earlham St which has freshly fried falafel in wraps. But my favourite is Jerusalem Falafel at Berwick St Market (https://twitter.com/JerusalemFalafe)

  3. Gingle (@ginglesnuff) July 17, 2013 at 5:36 pm #

    I completely agree with Hungry. Pilpel are amazing and the amount that they manage to stuff in a pitta negates any health benefits falafel might have over a burger. And they always give you an extra freshly cooked falafel dipped in tahini while you wait. Fab.

  4. simonetta July 17, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

    To be honest I’m surprised by the 4, as I find ur overall feeling of the sandwich quite positive. Nonetheless being invited by PR might have shaved off a point as well. Do u get that a lot?

    In anyway the moment I saw the title of this post I thought – you need to try the falafel of PilPel. Again a chain. But they do it well. Oh so well. Firstly you have one for lunch and ur stuffed for the rest of the day (and I love to eat so I don’t say often no to dinner). I would be very curious to see ur take on the mediterrean (my fav, cus od the grilled aubergines. To be honest I could just have those grilled aubergines on their own and I would be a happy soul). I only know the pilpel at paternoster sq, but it think there is one at spitalfields as well.

    Keep on writing. I love it 🙂

    • londonreviewofsandwiches July 18, 2013 at 7:27 am #

      I suppose I’ve been scarred by my experience of writing up Chooks. I didn’t want to be too mean…

  5. Helen July 18, 2013 at 4:00 pm #

    My main issue with this shop is that it’s called ‘Just Falafel’, but when you look at the menu, they do quite a lot of other things too… Yes, I’m a pedant.

  6. Sharmila July 18, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

    I have to say a word for Hoxton Beach falafel, who I frequently, er, frequent down near Goodge St of a workday lunchtime. The falafel are really fantastic – not dry, which is my usual criticism of falafel. And they are made even better with a bit of fried cauliflower stuffed into the bread too.

    • londonreviewofsandwiches July 18, 2013 at 4:27 pm #

      Yes! The dryness is a problem. I am living the cauli action. I adore cauli actually. Will definitely check em out.

  7. Frank H-S July 19, 2013 at 9:44 am #

    I really enjoyed Just Falafel for what it is, but I was expecting pretty standard. I really like the Japanese one (I’ve had 3 different ones now) – the pickled ginger is a great foil for the deep fried falafel. I think 4/10 is harsh for a sandwich you essentially enjoyed (the cons were are on the surplus dips!) – but I bet that PR guy left a sour taste in your mouth – he sounded like a complete douche.

    • londonreviewofsandwiches July 19, 2013 at 11:25 am #

      Well, I perhaps should have said that I didn’t enjoy it THAT much. I just didn’t want to be mean, that’s all.

      • Frank H-S July 22, 2013 at 8:54 am #

        Ahhh – well surely you have a right to be mean! Although the aftermath on Chooks sounds nasty!

  8. Maria July 21, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

    now I’m HUNGRY! 🙂

  9. Matthew August 28, 2014 at 1:02 pm #

    Suprised ChikP hasn’t been mentioned, they’re my first stop for Falafel every Monday lunchtime in St James Church Yard Piccadilly. Heard they operate at a number of food markets but I don’t know where or when.

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