Maoz is officially open. Having attracted a flurry of media attention, Bwog joined the ranks of the falafel fiends whose steady flow kept the joint buzzing during lunch hour its first day in the new 111th St location. The premise is simple: choose a form of falafel, either in a pita (whole wheat or white), or in a salad, and then help yourself to fixings and sauces from the unlimited salad bar.
While this seems like a fine idea, in practice it was quite a surreal experience. Having placed your order, you are given a number, which causes a rather awkward traffic near the salad bar, while some people linger at the register and others heap the cucumbers high on their sandwiches.
Read on for Bwog’s full report!
However, the goods are good! Fresh warm pitas and crunchy, not-too-greasy falafel are a good value for money, ($4.95 for the basic sandwich, extra for hummus, or the salad box.) The salad bar has a wide variety of fresh toppings, with the roasted brocolli being Bwog’s particular favorite.
There is more to the experience than just the sandwich. There are more pieces of falafel than expected (Bwog lost count amidst all these musings) presenting several difficulties:
- It is difficult to fit very many toppings from the salad bar into the pita, necessitating multiple trips to and from the awkwardly placed and crowded salad bar, and navigation of the unwieldy benches.
- Falafel is filling! While you think you’re tucking into a crunchy, vegetable filled meal, you end up feeling pretty weighed down by the volume of chickpea, (which a chart on the wall informs you is a legume, in case you didn’t know.) This leaves you on the more unpleasant side of sated while yearning for more delicious salad that you don’t have room for.
- It is so hard to eat! A pita stuffed with falafel, overflowing vegetables AND sauce is an awkward thing. We ended up using a combination of the traditional hold and bite method, plastic forks, and the occasional free hand for assistance.
All this is to say that the Maoz experience is a unique one, certainly with delights, but one that also left Bwog with reservations. The comfort factor is a great one: the busy, overwhelming decor, bright lights and benches make the space somewhat awkward, yet the sandwich itself is too difficult to eat on the go, plus you want to be by the salad bar. Too heavy for a light lunch, and too healthy for the late night drunchies, we’re left wondering where exactly Maoz will fit into our lives. Only time will tell. Nevertheless, it was a hearty, satisfying meal, and we strongly encourage you to go try it for yourselves.
Reporting and photos by CCS and SS