Chick-O-Pea’s, please

After passing by the shiny new exterior of Chick-O-Pea’s three times, desperately peering through the windows like a stalker, I finally satisfied my lust for falafel action. This was its second day of business so I’d give them a while to work out the kinks.
The interior is sparse but bright and happy like a typical “healthy” restaurant. The cashiers/workers have the strangest vibe like they’re reading my soul – sidelong glances that last way longer than socially acceptable – but just pay quickly and move along. One lady who might’ve been an owner was really nice though, and offered us paper cones to sample each topping with. I thought the menu was quite cute (aka simple and short) but hopeful, as they also listed some items like burgers etc that were “coming soon”.
i don't understand why their salads and appetizers are refrigerated in to-go boxes. wasteful.

i don't understand why their salads and appetizers are refrigerated in to-go boxes. wasteful.

The chickpea salad (6) was quite heavy on the romaine but included tasty marinated beets and cucumbers and a garlicky/lemony/tahiniiii olive oil dressing that I enjoyed. The chickpeas were cooked and dressed perfectly and my favorite part of the salad, as I’d hoped, since not getting those right would’ve been pretty disgraceful.

Receive your plain falafel in a pita and head to the self-serve toppins bar, with nine different toppings ranging from asian pickled daikon to dill-y cucumbers to olives and cornichons to cauliflower (!) and three sauces. What could be missing; maybe some fries in an assortment of flavors with accompanying dips! Sounds failproof to me, since people/I love this self-serve trend almost more than we love crispy fried patties of mashed beans. It makes me feel powerful and now I don’t have to get my kicks from the ketchup dispenser at McDonald’s like I did as a lass.

organic falafel and saffron fries (with aioli, somewhere) thanks to my lovely hand model
organic falafel and saffron fries (with aioli, somewhere) thanks to my lovely hand model

 Once again Chick-O-Pea’s, you live up to your name. I loved everything about the falafel (7) – flavorful without being salty, perfectly fried, modestly-sized patties, soft and dense innards with parsley, onion and sesame seeds. The toppings bar also got my approval because falafel is quite the perfect canvas to work with, especially with all those fresh, marinated/pickled veggies to pile on.  All these lovely factors didn’t distract me from the sad state of the pita bread, though, which is frustrating since awesome pita is everywhere. The pita I make at home and the complimentary ones from places around here are always toasted, thick and doughy, but this was thin, dry, and perhaps saddest of all, split into half per order. I can’t believe I was having such delicious falafel that was wrapped in papery bread which tore and fell apart halfway through the meal. Bongo Burger uses the same pita but it’s exactly half the price for the same size and the falafel is equally awesome.

with spicy harissa fries

with spicy harissa fries

I couldn’t get excited about the fries (2.5) because they were too thin for me, and the saffron tasted stale (likely due to my ambivalence towards the flavor) and didn’t pair well with the flavorless aioli. The harissa was fairly spicy and tasted a lot like fries with curly-fry seasoning without the marvelous crunchy/curly factor. What amused me the most was that everything spicy on the menu and at the bar had “spicy” right after the name, and still, every time i so much as looked at the spicy options the employees would caution me once again like I was approaching a minefield. Well I don’t have a high tolerance for heat but their stuff was more mildly tingly than explosive. It will be a while before I’m back.

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