After getting settled in at a temporary desk in the morning, we took to discussing the most pressing issue of the day: lunch. Twice a year, our New York team flies to Seattle for a week. After having bonded over multi-course meals at Islandwood on Bainbridge Island for our all-company retreat and scarfing Skillet sliders late into the night at our holiday party, we all became fast friends.
Alyse, the resident foodie whose taste I trust implicitly, suggested Bread or Taim. I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying brunch at Bread during a prior trip and Taim has been on my list forever, ever since we went to Balaboosta (a more upscale restaurant, under the same ownership of Einat Admony) and Sarah claimed that Taim made falafels that blew our beloved Falafel King in Notting Hill out of the water. (How could this be?!) Falafel King is a hole-in-the-wall we discovered on accident at the end of Portobello Road market while studying abroad. It was a gem worth us braving the awful Hammersmith and City line for time and time again. For £5, you could get a fresh falafel with the works and your choice of lemonade or beer—pretty tough to beat. I knew I had to investigate this bold claim, so it was settled quickly: Taim at noon.
We moved in a pack: Bonnie and myself from the Seattle office, and Alyse, Allison, and Alissa from New York. It was a sunny, crisp winter day in the city and falafel sounded perfect. Having heard Sarah talk about it, I knew what I needed to do as soon as I got inside. I promptly ordered the Fresh Ginger-Mint-Lemonade and the ‘Green’ Falafel Sandwich on a Whole Wheat Pita (the Whole Wheat was my one attempt at making a healthy decision on this vacation.) I wasn’t in the mood for a smoothie, but the flavor combinations of Strawberry, Raspberry and Thai Basil as well as Canteloupe and Ginger sounded incredible.
When ordering the Falafel Sandwich, you get to choose between three flavors: Green, Red (made with roasted red peppers), and Harissa. I went with Green, as it’s the classic and most traditional variation, made with cilantro, mint, and parsley. (How else could I do a fair comparison with Falafel King?) Inside the warm pita, among the fresh green falafel balls, was hummus, Israeli salad, pickled cabbage, and tahini. I was a bit frazzled upon ordering and wish I would’ve seen the small print suggesting that you order your sandwich ‘with everything,’ which includes pickles, S’rug hot sauce, and Amba (pickled mangoes). A huge fail on my part as all three of those things sound delicious.
Regardless of my miss on the additional toppings, my falafel was incredibly flavorful and had great texture between the crunch of the freshly fried falafel and the pickled cabbage and the creaminess of the tahini and hummus. My lemonade was incredibly refreshing and made for an excellent thirst-quencher. My one complaint about the falafel was that it started to fall apart about a third of the way through, so it certainly needed to be eaten while sitting down. I was warned of how full I would feel if I ate the whole thing, but I just couldn’t stop. It was like a delicious burger that you have to eat in one fowl swoop without setting it down, juices dripping down your hands, which definitely isn’t a bad thing. Believe me, there was hardly a crumb left on my piece of foil when I was finished…although my hands looked as though I had just completed a finger-painting project with hummus and tahini.
Alissa is a huge fan of their Greek Salad and Alyse swears by the Sabich Sandwich, made with fried eggplant slices, boiled egg, hummus, Israeli salad, cabbage salad, tahini and amba. Next time I go, I’ll definitely have to sample them, but it will be very hard not to be a repeat customer of the Falafel Sandwich. In terms of whether it beats out Falafel King, I can’t truly be objective since the nostalgia for my time there has made that place improve every year I’m away. But I can say for certain that Taim makes the best falafel I’ve had stateside. The only issue is trying to accomplish anything at work after consuming one.
Taim, 45 Spring Street, New York, NY (another location in the West Vilage), (212) 219.0600, http://www.taimfalafel.com, Open Daily from 11 a.m – 10 p.m.