Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Chickpea Restaurant

Still thinking vegan and there were intriguing-sounding things on the menu, so I decided to try the Chickpea sit-down restaurant (not the food cart). Interesting choice of locations as it's right next door to also-vegetarian Meet on Main.

Busy starting around 6pm till maybe 8.30pm, so best bet is to squeeze in early or resign yourself to a later-night snack. Table turnaround doesn't look that bad, though, but you might be waiting outside the door as the waiting area isn't that big.

Style of food is similar to that popularized by places such as Nuba and Jamjar, so nothing too weird and meat-eating friends out for Lebanese probably won't care. A good gathering place as it's vegan with gluten-free option -- this is pretty lowest-common-denominator food nowadays.

ChickTea ($3.50) mint, ginger, organic sugar, and lemon
  • Pass on this if you are are used to stronger-tasting pouch teas. If you do get it, let it steep for a long time or it will taste like hot water.
  • Tasted like hot water with a hint of mint. Hopefully you will have better luck if you let it steep longer.
  • Teacup cute but had what I hope was just tea residue in it. If the dishwasher didn't catch it the server should have as the second line of defense. Fail.
2017-Aug-30 - Chickpea - tea (?) residue in the teacup they brought me

2017-Aug-30 - Chickpea - Chicktea

Cauliflower of Life, hummus plate option ($16), gluten-free option
  • The hummus plate portion is "organic hummus, medley of fresh vegetables in olive-oil-lemon dressing, with pita bread, and a pickle on the side".
  • TIP: If you are converting your order to gluten free, check what you will get instead of pita. The sidebar says, "Make any dish gluten-free with Chickpea fries instead of a pita", but when I asked for my hummus plate to be gluten-free, I got a small salad instead of pita, and not fries. My "pickle on the side" was at the very bottom of this salad, and red from the piece of beet hiding there as well.
  • Cauliflower advertised as "melt-in-your-mouth roasted cauliflower". But no, it wasn't. Fail. Tasted like bland steamed cauliflower with hints of lemon from the "lemon-garlic sauce and classic tahini". The hummus on the plate was tastier than this main. Pass on this and order something else.
  • For $16 you do get a good chunk of hummus and even without any pita it can be a pretty filling portion. If you don't think you can finish, eat strategically to take most of the hummus home.
2017-Aug-30 - Chickpea - Cauliflower of Life (hummus plate)

  • This was my friend's order and I believe she got the Platter ($16).
  • I was initially intrigued by this with it's promise of "flawlessly fried, crunchy eggplant", but our server waffled on whether it was crispy. Turned out the thinly sliced eggplant coated in something was nowhere close to crispy. No part of the limp slice I tried was crispy. Maybe it might have been crispy briefly out of the fryer, but when it hit the table, it just wasn't. Fail.
  • The slice of eggplant I got to try tasted nothing special.
2017-Aug-30 - Chickpea - Sabich platter

2017-Aug-30 - Chickpea - piece of supposedly crispy eggplant from Sabich

Chickpea Fries
  • TIP: If your order includes chickpea fries, make sure they come hot, not lukewarm. You risk them being oily but they taste better hot.
  • Thin crunchy shell holding a creamy interior. Tastes like something bland with enough salt added to make the whole thing tasty, but not enough to be too salty.
  • Strangely, didn't even taste like chickpea. But it's fun and tasty in the way deep-fried and salted things are tasty.
  • We got a separate small order of please-be-hot chickpea fries, and it looks like those come inconsistently tossed with a sweet chili sauce which went well with them.
2017-Aug-30 - Chickpea - chickpea fries

2017-Aug-30 - Chickpea - chickpea fries creamy interior

Overall, the core food (hummus, salad, falafel) is nothing special. You would have to have a really refined palate for that kind of food to really discern whether their hummus is better than that of any other decent restaurant.
The actual "special" component about the dishes (at least those we tried) were over-hyped on the menu and that lost marks from me. $16 for a plate of hummus is too much. Additional points lost for the teacup.

Overall for taste and price I'd recommend JamJar's tasting plate instead. Might have to work out something with them if you need to go gluten-free though.

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