Monday, November 1, 2010

Crisp: The New Falafel in New York City

Photos above were taken with the iPhone 3Gs.

One bite of this falafel sandwich and you'll know why this place is called "CRISP"... Similar to Tony the Tiger's "They're G-G-G-reat" saying, Crisp should have their own motto of "ccrrrunncccchhh, ccruuunnccchhhh" because that will be the sound you hear after that first scrumptious bite. Crisp's falafels are all made with organic ingredients and are freshly baked, everyday!

Their menu offers a variety of options to add to your falafels - have it with peanut sauce (the African way), or with cilantro pesto/avocado/salsa (the Mexican way), chili sauce/eggplants (the Asian way), or just the plain old regular way -- with hummus/salad (the Crisp way). Either way you have it, you'll get that crunchy bite every time! As an added bonus, your order will be packaged in what the company calls "the handbag". At first, my friend and I thought it was such a waste of a cardboard box (but that is only because we didn't realize the potential of the bag)... If you rip along the perforated line, you'll notice the sandwich will be held in place -- a perfect way to hold your sandwich upright while you "pause" from your sandwich. :D Such an ingenious idea -- I wish I thought of it!

If you don't like falafel sandwiches, you can either order a salad or make your own hummus platter.

Ok, now, back to my review... I'm a harsh critic -- i thought the sandwich was good, but lacked flavor ... I went the traditional route by ordering "the Crisp" because I wanted a reminder of the foods I ate in the Middle East; however, it came up short in my opinion. The hummus would have flavored the sandwich had it been spread evenly within the pita, but of course, the hummus was only at the bottom of the pita -- leaving my last remaining bites to be tastier than my first. Aside from this semi-negative comment, while eating this you'll feel as if you're eating something healthy, afterall - there are a lot of vegetables in this thing. Ah, vegetables -- p.s. this is a VEGETARIAN restaurant!

Prices:
Sandwiches: $5.75 - $8.75;
Salads - $7.25 - $10.25;
Make your own Hummus Platter - $7.75

Now, the question is -- is Crisp better than Mamoun's? That's a difficult decision.

Crisp Pros:
- healthy (falafels are baked)
- ingredients are organic (ok, organic is a very loose term by FDA standards)
- cool packaging
- falafels are crunchier and sandwiches may be slightly bigger than Mamoun's

Crisp Cons:
- only vegetarian food options
- menu is pricier than Mamoun's

But, at the end of the day, I have to say, I still enjoy Mamoun's over Crisp. Its a difficult decision, but for someone who likes the option of having meat, I'd prefer Mamoun's. On a mano-a-mano (aka Falafel sandwich comparison)... i might only slightly prefer mamoun's over crisp (though it is oilier) ... I think I may have to pay Mamoun's a revisit to retest this decision (or Rainbow which i just added below) ... :P

If you'd like to try either of these places, here is a listing of their locations:

Crisp: 110 West 40th St. Bet 6th and Broadway / 684 3rd Avenue Corner of 43rd

Mamoun's: 119 MacDougal St / 22 St. Marks Place / 85 Howe St (New Haven, CT)

At any rate, happy eating!

*** UPDATE *** I was just reminded of another falafel place in the city by a reader -- its called Rainbow, its a HOLE in the wall (u can walk by it and would miss it, except for the long lines that form outside of it during lunch time)... its on 17th Street between Broadway & Fifth ******


Did you know?:

Per wikipedia, Falafel is a 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 flat bread known as lafa. The falafel balls are topped with salads, pickled vegetables and hot sauce, and drizzled with tahini-based sauces. Falafel balls may also be eaten alone as a snack or served as part of a mezze.

Generally accepted to have first been made in Egypt, where the dish is widely known as طعميةta'amiya) in the Cairo dialect, falafel has become a dish eaten throughout the Middle East. The Copts of Egypt claim to have first made the dish as a replacement for meat during Lent. The hearty fritters are now found around the world as a replacement for meat and as a form of street food.

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