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Sunday, April 21
The Indiana Daily Student

arts

Stuck in the middle

Part of what makes Bloomington so great is its plethora of dining options. I cannot think of another place that boasts its very own Tibetan, Eritrean and Burmese restaurants. If you have a hankering for exotic food, chances are you can find it here.\nWith this in mind, I embarked on a visit to Falafel's, a little Middle Eastern restaurant tucked underneath Uncle Fester's off Kirkwood Avenue. If you are not familiar with Israeli food, as a whole, it shares many similarities with Greek and other Mediterranean foods.\nThe restaurant is nicely decorated. About six or seven tables fill a cozy dining room. Israeli artifacts, such as gold hands with Hebrew writing on them, adorn the walls, creating an authentic feel. The lighting and the noise level is pleasant, which makes for a nice dining atmosphere.\nThe menu itself was fairly confusing. Because it is just a list of choices, there is no feel for what should be intended as an appetizer and what would be more appropriate for an entire meal. Beyond this, Falafel's seems to offer up a good array of grilled meats along with such things as hummus and falafel, which are ground and fried chick-pea balls.\nTo start our meal, my companion and I opted for hummus with tahini ($4.50). Hummus is a dip made from grinding up chick peas mixed with a variety of spices. Tahini paste is made from sesame seeds. Usually, this dip is eaten with pita, or simple flat bread with a pocket in the middle. \nThe hummus was rather unappetizing. This was mainly due to the large amount of olive oil floating on the top. I don't know about you, but anything with about a cup of oil on top makes me nauseated. In addition to this, the tahini paste was glopped in the middle instead of being mixed right into the hummus. I have never seen hummus presented this way; I think I prefer it all mixed together at once.\nNonetheless, the hummus tasted OK. It was a bit thicker than I am used to, but it still tasted quite fresh with a unique taste. The bread served with the hummus was warm and soft.\nAt the beginning of the meal, we were also presented with baked pita with olive oil and spices along with salsa and olive oil to dip the bread in. The salsa was very mild and had a citrus taste to it. It was enjoyable.\nFor our meal, my companion had falafel ($5) and I opted for a combination plate referred to as mashui ($14).\nFalafel is one of my favorite snacks or it makes a great lunch for those people on the go. Falafel's falafel was actually pretty uneventful. Fried nicely so that it had a nice crunch, these little morsels were a little flat, but still good.\nMy combination plate was filled with an array of different meats. The dish included beef sausage, a beef patty, a lamb kebob and a chicken kebob. Also included with these were rice and salad.\nThe chicken proved to be the best meat included in the platter. Spiced nicely with an ample amount of salt and pepper and then grilled well, the only real drawback was that it was rather fatty.\nThe lamb kebob was extremely tough and dried out. While there might have been some sort of marinade or flavoring on this, it would have been overpowered by the taste of the meat. \nThe sausage wasn't much more unpleasant than the lamb. These small and dense links had a most unpleasant taste and consistency. With a spongy but dense consistency, these sausages had an unwelcome spicy element that did not merge well with the other tastes.\nThe meat patty, which can be best described as a hamburger with interesting spices thrown in, was pleasant. Different spices, mixed in a way that they were nearly unidentifiable, filled this meat, making the taste interesting and mildly pleasant.\nUnfortunately, the best part of the meal was the salad -- which was just a bowl of shredded lettuce. The dressing was top notch, blending together a light vinegar, oil and a nice citrus taste to tie the flavors together. It was rather enjoyable. \nFor dessert, my companion and I split baqlawa -- also called baklava -- which is a complex pastry where thin and flaky layers of phyllo dough are filled with sugar-coated ground almonds and then covered with a warm sugary syrup. The baqlawa was rather tasty, but it was dense. The phyllo should be very light, especially considering that it is extremely thin, yet it seemed quite heavy.\nOverall, based on this particular visit, I would be hard-pressed to go back to Falafel's.

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