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?