On a mission for something delicious yesterday, we stumbled into Kalyustan’s, an ethnic grocery store that carries spices and foods from around the world. DV said that his sister said that Kalyustan had a little cafe upstairs, where they served some of the best falafel in town. The Saveur, Gourmet, and Village Voice printouts papering the window seemed to tell the same story.
Wandering through the downstairs aisles of the shop, where the shelves were stuffed to capacity with bags of Jordanian almonds, cans of Israeli tomatoes, and sodas from India, I could see why Kalyustan’s was known as a culinary wonderland: everything was here. We squeezed our way through a long line of people and climbed the unmarked stairs to the upstairs cafe, where falafel, grape leaves, and other Greek specialities were waiting, displayed in a deli case.
We ordered a falafel platter, to share. It looked more appetizing than it tasted but it didn’t taste bad- it just wasn’t the best falafel I’ve ever had. For one thing, the falafel was not fresh and hot; it was also too dense and chewy. But the flavor itself was pleasingly accurate. It came with two mini pickles, which was an unexpected surprise, and a spicy pickled cauliflower. We started out eating our platter with gusto, but halfway through kind of lost our excitement about the new falafel from the secret cafe: it was just okay. While I wouldn’t come back here for a falafel sandwich (or the baba ganoush or lentil cakes), I would definitely wander the crowded aisles downstairs, looking for magical tastes of a homeland.
Falafel Platter: $6.49
Kalyustan’s is at 123 Lexington Avenue, at 28th street, New York, NY.