You Don’t Win Friends With (Barbanzo’s Falafel) Salad
Since we first posted about Barbanzo (58th and 3rd), we’ve been tracking the opening with interest. Aside from Omar’s Kitchen and Bakery, there aren’t too many brick and mortar shops to get a civilized plate of falafel and hummus in upper Midtown East, a gap which Barbanzo could have potentially filled.
Anyone familiar with Meze Grill’s Chipotle-esque scheme of ordering should feel right at home with Barbanzo’s menu. Step into the bright and immaculately clean restaurant and you’ll spot slowly turning shawarma spits of chicken and beef in the back. And up at the front counter, tubs of ingredients such as the fried falafel, clinging to life underneath a heat lamp. Choose your protein, your vehicle for delivery, then your toppings and sauces. But please choose better than I did.
To their credit, Barbanzo packed a whole lot of food into my $8.50 falafel
platter salad, and most of it was certainly fresh, filling and Zach’s least favorite word — healthy. The order included five falafel, which while plenty crisp on the outside, were a bit too dense and disappointingly mealy. I was almost glad that they showed restraint when spooning the hummus on my platter, for it wasn’t as silky and appealing as the version found at Taim Mobile, or even Maoz. And the wan tahini and gutless harissa served better as coloring then flavoring.
But perhaps my biggest issue with this dish is calling it a ‘platter’, for it was most certainly a salad. In any other reputable falafel slinging shop, a platter would include a layer of rice, or perhaps a side of pita. In this case, a bed of shredded lettuce provided the foundation, making it a salad in my book. I’ll certainly check back at some point to see if their beef or chicken shawarma make this place a visit – it’s harder to screw those up. But with salad like this, you probably won’t win friends.
The + (What somebody who likes this would say)
- It’s a healthy lunch
- Clean, brightly lit space with plenty of seating.
The – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- It’s a healthy lunch
- The food is middling — better perhaps than Pita Grill but not nearly as good as Taim, Maoz, etc
Bar Banzo, 969 3rd Ave (at 58th st); 212-317-1900