Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Kosmos Greekafe

I noticed that Kosmos Greekafé had generated quite a bit of comment on the Internet, and that it was favorably reviewed by lots of people on Urbanspoon. So I decided to stop by their store at 2136 N.College Avenue in Fayetteville the other day.

When you first walk in, the restaurant has a cold, antiseptic feel—almost like a hospital waiting room. But the server at the front counter is quite friendly, and lets me take a bit to peruse the menu on the wall behind her. I came wondering what they might have here for vegetarians, thinking falafel would probably be the only option. But the choices are abundant. There’s the Greek salad for $5.49 (or $2.99 for half), the Falafel salad for $6.99, the Vegetarian Pita for $4.99, the Falafel Pita for $4.99, the Vegetarian Platter for $7.99, and Spanakopita (spinach pie) for $7.99. There are also various appetizers and desserts that vegans and vegetarians might eat.
I decide to order the Falafel Pita since it has been a while since I have had falafel. Also, the price seems right. Or so I thought before I added fries and a drink and feta cheese. By the time I am done, my bill comes to about $8.50. I am surprised that it has escalated that far since I started by ordering a $5 sandwich. But the server is quite patient in walking me through the extra charges I have accumulated by opting for all the extra goodies.
Although I have been eating falafel for 30 years, I realize some people don’t know what it is. According to Wikipedia,
Falafel (/fəˈlɑːfəl/; Arabic: فلافل‎, [falaːfil] ( listen)) is a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas and/or fava beans. Falafel is usually served in a pita, which acts as a pocket, or wrapped in a flatbread known as lafa. The falafel balls are topped with salads, pickled vegetables, hot sauce, and drizzled with tahini-based sauces. Falafel balls may also be eaten alone as a snack or served as part of a meze.

It’s hard to describe falafel in such a way that the inexperienced can truly experience its wonder. When I worked in a cafeteria during grad school in Iowa, the staff hated falafel day because the patrons went mad for it. The little chickpea balls must be fried in oil, which creates quite the mess. And yes, we are talking about carnivorous Iowa students devouring a dish without meat for lunch.
Not five minutes after I order, the server brings my order to the table I have chosen. I am astonished at the amount of food. The falafel sandwich is easily as large as a half foot sub, and twice as heavy. The falafel balls are fresh and cooked to perfection. The pita also has onion, lettuce and tomato in a tzatziki sauce. This sauce is also something you need to try. It is made of strained yogurt, cucumber, garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice. I had never had it before trying it at Kosmos. It was delicious. Far more common as a compliment to falafel, in my experience, is sesame tahini (a peanut sauce). In addition to the mammoth sandwich, there is also a full basket of fries. Why anyone would need to add feta cheese to the sandwich, let alone get dessert, is a mystery to me. I am even more astonished when I see myself mopping up the last little bit of tzatziki sauce with the last fry.
The food at Kosmos Greek Café is fresh, and the people are nice. The atmosphere could seem a little warmer, a bit less corporate. But at least the place is painted royal blue. I read once that McDonalds interiors are red and yellow because these are active, aggressive colors that make people eat and run (so that McDonalds can move more customers in more quickly). The food is so good here. Not being a fan of Greek food generally, it is hard to comment on how authentically Greek Kosmos is. I can see from the reviews on Urbanspoon that there is some difference of opinion on this issue. But the reviews there are mostly positive, and I think that is as it should be.

No comments:

Post a Comment