Ful for You

It's nice to be spoilt.  Getting dressed up, going somewhere swanky, having your chair pulled out for you and having a waiter pour your wine - there are few better ways to spend your time.  However the reality is often not as great as the fantasy - restaurants are often formal, a bit stiff.  Not the kind of place that encourages sharing amazingly tasty treats with your partner and they definitely frown on sucking the meat from the bone and licking your fingers after!

Yes getting dressed up is fun but sometimes it's nice to go somewhere familiar, somewhere small and somewhere where you won't be thrown out for dipping your finger in that last blob of sauce.

Falafel Wales is just such a place.  I lived on the same street as it when I lived in Cardiff and can recall retreating there many a lunchtime when I was lucky enough to be working from home.  Since leaving Canton last summer, Falafel Wales has moved to larger premises on Cowbridge Road East and is now open from breakfast through to dinner providing hot meals, mezze and take away to the locals.

It's not a huge interior - just 4 or 5 tables, nor is it particularly fancy in its decor - wipe clean table clothes give a hint of the greasy spoon but it's brightened up by some colourful wall hangings.

Taking a seat on a Tuesday evening we began to peruse the menu - Lebanese and Middle Eastern food with nods to the Turkish cuisine I'm familiar with from family holidays.  Starters are priced from £3 and mains from the same price, though you can spend up to £10.95 for a mixed grill.

We decided on a couple of starters - ful medammis (a dip made from broad beans) [£3] and Hummus with Lamb [£4.50], both served with flat bread to dip.  The ful was thick and green, enhanced by the spicy green pepper served on top.  It is very similar to hummus, containing tahini and lemon, but managed to remain distinct.  The hummus by contrast was light and silky smooth with a good punch of lemon and garlic.  The lamb and toasted pine nuts made it more substantial and I can imagine being very happy served both these dips with some baba ganoush and falafel as a light lunch.

Moving on to mains, I ordered my usual, Koshari (an Egyptian rice dish made with brown lentils and vermicelli topped with crispy onions and a thick tomato sauce) and Shawarma (slices of marinated, grilled chicken) [£4.50].  This is my ultimate comfort food and a complete nightmare for anybody on Atkins give the sheer volume of carbs!  It's not the most attractively presented dish - the crispy onions hiding most of the ingredients beneath a brown mass, but by George is it tasty.  The rice and vermicelli are soft whilst the lentils and onions add some bite and crunch.  The tomato sauce is thick and slightly spicy without overpowering the chunks of grilled chicken.

My partner ordered an Arayes (think somewhere between a stuffed naan and a calzone but with a very thin crust) [£3.30] and wasn't disappointed.  The thin bread was perfectly crisp and light without being greasy, whilst the filling of spiced lamb and tomato was seasoned well.  Again, it's not going to win any awards for its looks but don't let this put you off - it is filling and delicious. 

All of this was washed down with some fresh lemonade with mint [£2.50 per glass] - bright green, sharp and zingy with fruit and mint.  This could easily of erred on the side of mouthwash but was instead refreshing.  The whole bill came to less than £19 and we had to be rolled out of our seats. 

This isn't a late night kebab shop, but neither is it fine dining.  What it is is good food, simply cooked and served up with a passion for Middle Eastern cuisine.  I'll take that over silver service any night!


Helen T said…
Got to try this next time I'm in the area, love the full gamut of Middle Eastern food and this sounds right up my street. Though different cuisine, reminds of an Italian cafe in St Albans that did the best pasta I've ever eaten, though possible in the most downmarket setting. But, as always, it was all about the food.

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