Vegan Bites! Umi Falafel on Botanic
You don't have to be vegan to enjoy falafel but for those of us who choose a life devoid of burgers, falafel can be shining beacon in the dark, blasting super food salads and the like right out of the water.
Even before I took the veggie life, I was a massive fan of falafel due to my preference for eating all the carbs and love for all things that can be breaded and fried. A hearty pitta bread or wrap loaded up with falafel, zingy tahini and all the veggies is enough to turn around any dodgy day and is the ultimate in comfort food.
Having moved from Dublin to Belfast, it's safe to say I was thrilled to hear from a friend that an Umi Falafel had popped up on Botanic and when it was suggested we drop in for dinner and chats one dreary Monday, it really was a no-brainer.
My first visit wasn't off to a good start as Google maps lead me to the wrong place where I sat down, browsed the menu and ordered a Diet Coke before realising that I was in the wrong restaurant and had to make a speedy exit after handing my chilled can back across the counter to a confused waitress. Amid some rambling apology about being somewhere I wasn't supposed to be. I eventually made it to the correct spot and my cohorts had already bagged us a nice table with wide padded benches you share with diners behind you. Cool and modern.
Our waitress was lovely and came up straight away to take our order and we chose three Palestinian Falafels (wise choice on our parts), breaded halloumi sticks and spinach filo rolls (which I couldn't have. Sob). The Palestinian Falafel comes with a pitta bread filled with falafel (the properly delicious green type), hummus, tomato, pickles, fried aubergines, chilli sauce and lashings of uber delicious tahini. I also finally got my Diet Coke served chilled in a can. Win.
A tasty meal, served quickly in a relaxed and informal environment is the ideal location for a catch-up with friends while battling to keep your precious fillings from leaking out the ends if you're unlucky enough to rupture your pitta (I did). The falafel was crisp and perfectly cooked on the outside with a soft, almost bready inside and was well matched to the combination of fresh, roasted and pickled vegetables. Filling enough to enjoy without any sides, casual enough for lunch alone or a fun bite with friends. A tad messy but an enjoyable amount of messiness so don't wear a bold lipstick unless you don't mind having it all over your chin. In this scenario, falafel wins over lipstick every time.