The corner of 16th St. and Prospect Park West has had quite a history in the three years I’ve lived here. The space is only big enough to house a tiny kitchen, so it’s always been perfect for a take-out joint. When I first moved in the corner was home to a lousy falafel place. Eventually it that was replaced by a Filipino place, which I thought was mediocre the one time I got food from them. Now it is home to another falafel place, with the unwieldy name Shawarma Mediterranean Grill Flame House (the take-out menu claims it is “House of the Flaming Kebab” as well, though I don’t think that is part of the name). I visited a mere week after they opened, and I am sorry to say that the falafel is not very good.
NYC is home to almost as many falafel places as Tel Aviv, and yet unlike Tel Aviv the good ones are hard to find. Brooklyn Pita on 7th Ave used to be good, but the new management uses a new recipe and the falafels are tasteless (though they do have a nice selection of fresh salads). When I popped into Shawarma etc. on the way home from running errands, I was greeted warmly by the guy behind the counter. As he made the falafel I also asked for an order of stuffed grape leaves (another way I judge falafel joints). He packed up the leaves and then offered me a free one while I waited. It was not very good; strangely sweet and filled with overcooked rice. With obvious pride the server asked me how I liked the grape leaf. “It’s pretty good…” I managed.
The falafel themselves were not much better. They had a weird tang to them, and they fell apart into mush at the first sign of pressure. The tahini was bland and all of the flavors in the pita clashed with each other. Also, the guy never asked me if I wanted hot sauce, and failure to do so is a cardinal sin in any New York falafel place. Why are there so many bad falafels to be found in NYC?
Shawarma Mediterranean Grill Flame House — 212 Prospect Park West (on 16th St)