For decades Ami Hassan has been a permanent fixture at the River Heights restaurant that he owns and operates. He is typically visible in the open kitchen putting his special flair onto Middle Eastern dishes. I have know him to leave his station and come into the dining room to admonish patrons for lingering too long over coffee, declaring that he needed the space for hungry customers. On this day my dining companion and I met for an early lunch and I was surprised to find the Falafel Place (1101 Corydon Ave.) already busy. Perhaps they were still there from breakfast as the restaurant does have an all day menu.
My lunch date was drawn to the breakfast section and ordered a Falafel Breakfast complete with two eggs, 8 falafel balls (essentially a spiced chickpea fritter) , tahini (sesame seed sauce), hummus and pita wedges. For good measure and to share her fare, she ordered a side of potato pancakes (latkes) topped with garlic, onions and peppers. She oohed and awed while savouring every taste but made specific remarks about the perfectly cooked over easy eggs and that the potato pancakes were delightfully crispy on the outside and silky in the middle. I tasted the falafel balls and those pancakes and would whole heartedly agree with her assessment. I have travelled to Israel and my favourite cook book is one entitled “Jerusalem” so I consider myself acquainted with the tabbouleh salad making technique.
Essentially the salad is a parsley/bulgur one, with different ratios of the two ingredients depending on which regional variant of the salad you’re making, or your personal preference. There is a warning in my cookbook that “other elements need to be handled carefully”. I made a judgement error with my order, because I was craving a traditional tabbouleh salad with fresh tastes of parsley and mint. Ami’s emphasizes slices of vegetables.
Originally I had been torn when I saw spanakopita on the menu, so we ordered it to share. As you likely know, the spinach dish wrapped in a crunchy phyllo is a Greek specialty and it is not intended as a criticism when I say that Winnipeg Greek restaurant’s spanakopita recipes are much better. Enjoy Ami’s specialties and you will be more than impressed. The Falafel Place is open seven days a week from 6:30 am-9 pm. There is an all day menu available. They are wheelchair accessible. Watch for Food Musings every second Wednesday in your copy of The Headliner, The Herald, The Lance, The Metro, The Sou’wester and The Times.
Kath’s quote: “Parsley – the jewel of herbs, both in the pot and on the plate.”-Albert Stockli
Love never fails.