I have recently started a new job. It is a good hospital and a better position so I am happy, but the best thing about the new hospital is the Doctor's Mess. It is one of the best in the country. There is a serviced bar serving food and nibbles from lunch till 8 pm, a help yourself nice coffee rather than the usual awful instant and best of all Gin & Tonic for £1.80. Who can complain!
Two Fridays ago I had lunch with my juniors in the mess. They suggested the Falafel meal as the best dish on the menu. At £3.50 the meal was great value for money with cous cous, hummus, salad, few olives, pita bread and falafel. Everything on the plate was great apart from the falafel; they were awful! More like cardboard balls! Dense and dry, truly awful stuff!
I didn't tell the guys I was disappointed with the meal. I thought if you are not into Middle Eastern cuisine and If the only falafel you ever tried came from a salad box or a sandwich out of a fridge this would make a decent version in comparison.
Real falafel should be crisp on the outside; light and fluffy in the inside. Falafel should never be baked in an oven. DEEP FRY is were falafel belongs. It should be freshly cooked in small patches, never reheated and never put in a fridge. Sandwiches should be made fresh to order and eaten straight away. That is the only way to enjoy falafel as God intended.
Few places in London can keep up with such high standard. Many Middle Eastern restaurants around London make a decent falafel but like most things in these restaurants it is hit or miss. One place never disappointed me, Mr Falafel in Shepherd's Bush. I can say with clear conscience this is the best falafel in London, and trust me I know my falafel. My dad is world champion in eating falafel. He would eat the stuff happily every single day of his life so we had lots of falafel in our household over the years.
Mr Falafel is located in Shepherd's Bush New Market, 5 minutes away from Westfields Shopping Centre. It started as a small kiosk at the entrance of the market but recently they moved into a shop which offered few tables to eat in and allowed them to expand the menu to include foul and hummus and experiment with new flafel sandwich combinations. The place does a brisk business around lunch time, so expect some queues of all kind of people from BBC employees to market traders.
The standard falafel sandwich comes in three sizes; small (£3), medium (£3.50) and an XL sandwich that is beyond most people ability to finish (£4.50). Arabic flat bread used as a wrap with the excellent falafel, salad, cucumber pickle, screaming fuchsia turnip pickles, tahini and optional chilli sauce. The mixed falafel sandwich is essentially the same with the addition of fried vegetables. The new sandwiches on the menu includes an added avocado, feta cheese or makdous. I haven't tried any of them so I can't comment if these combinations work or not.
Another thing you wouldn't fail to notice in this shop is hygiene. Although the shop is located in a fairly dodgy looking market, the place is spotless. Ahmed, the owner, is hygiene obsessed. He cleans his hands with alcohol gel and wears disposable plastic gloves every time he handles food. Work surface get cleaned after every batch of sandwiches he prepare. We could do with people like that in the NHS.
On a last note, the place bills itself as "The best Palestinian Falafel". As Ahmed explains in a Guardian article "
Units T4 - T5
New Shepherd's Bush Market
London W12 8LH
Monday - Saturday 11 am to 6 pm