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Olympic Pita. Not worth the trip.

bigmackdaddy Aug 6, 2006 06:23 PM

So I finally made it to Olympic Pita today for lunch. It's pretty bad. I had the falafel sandwich, Morrocan cigars and bean soup. My friends had the schwarma and bean soup as well. We all received free salad bar. My falafel was pretty dry. The soup tasted like it came out of a can except for the fresh cilantro they put in, and they served it too us luke warm. The cigars were nothing more than fried dough wit tasteless filling. The schwarma was interesting because I think it has a good marinade, however, the meat is seriously dry and without much flavor. The salads in he bar have no zing. The coleslaw was bland as was the tonmato and cucumber mix. When I went for the humous I was informed that it wasn't part of the salad bar even though it was in the bar. The put it in my sandwich instead. It wasn't anything special. The Fresca and laffa bread is the only thing I liked. But you have too eat it fast becausae once it cools down it loses it's texture and flavor and again, you have too pull teeth to get a glass of ice for your soda.

The service is bad as well. Mind you there were only three tables, including us that were filled inside. We had to pull teeth to get ice water. Whne they gave us a pitcher of water they neglected the glasses and again we had to wait a bit for those. The waitress gave us the feeling that we were bothering her too much. The cashier was a doll. My advice if you're looking for falafel is too try Mister Falafel on 7th Ave between 3rd and 4th streets in Park Slope. They have much tastier falafel, salads and soups. Althoug no schwarma or Morroccan cigars

  1. a_and_w Aug 9, 2006 10:28 PM

    Jen and BigMack: Just to clarify, when I say "Israeli style" I'm referring to lots of different salads, cole slaws, toppings, etc. I've had so many different kinds of falafel at places I consider "Israeli" that I've basically given up trying to distinguish on that basis.

    1 Reply
    1. re: a_and_w
      bigmackdaddy Aug 10, 2006 02:26 AM

      You ain't the only one who's given up, brutha!

    2. jen kalb Aug 8, 2006 02:06 AM

      Im really replying to your last post. When I say Israeli style, I mean the style that prevails in Israel, or at any rate the style people come back from Israel craving (in my experience of my returning friends. I well remember my college roommate returning from her year abroad in Jerusalem and making chickpea-based felafels from mix, with hummus, hot sauce and a "salad" of onions, cukes and tomatoes. The Amy's felafel chain opened around that time and served a similar style, crunchy golden chickpea based felafels with pickled vegs, onion and hot sauce.The Lubavichers all go to Israel at some point in their education or cultural life, Im sure and want to reproduce the taste here. The salads multiply. I associate the softer, greener felafel, with more herbs and favas (Mamoun, Mr. Felafel, Rainbow, Sam's etc)with arab versions, tho I am sure that is much too simplistic.

      By the way, there was a prior Egyptian Mr. Felafel in Park Slope, on the other side of the street around say 2nd St. in the early 80s. They had a terrific tomato-ey, spicy stewed foul dish, ver diff from the foul mudammas or fava salad Ive had elsewhere. I am wondering whether this dish is served anywhere else in the City - I have never seen it since.

      1. b
        babar ganesh Aug 7, 2006 09:02 PM

        i've had really, really good food at olympic pita, although i haven't been there in at least a year.

        are you going when it's busy? i'd imagine they would do better then; the breads and salad should be fresher, etc.

        5 Replies
        1. re: babar ganesh
          bigmackdaddy Aug 7, 2006 09:14 PM

          I went on a Sunday afternoon. I enjoyed the laffa, it is very good. It was the other food that I thought sucked. As far as freshness is concerned, the scwharma was new (it was a full vertical spit) and the salad trays were refilled twice while I was there. It wasn't so much the freshness as it was the seasoning or lack there of.

          1. re: bigmackdaddy
            b
            babar ganesh Aug 7, 2006 10:58 PM

            hmm, that's contrary to my experience, though as i said my experience was > 1 year old. sad to hear.

            1. re: babar ganesh
              a_and_w Aug 7, 2006 11:07 PM

              Honestly, babar, I went there pretty recently and had an excellent falafel sandwich in the laffa.

              Bigmack, is Mr. Falafel Israeli style with all the salads? How accessible is it by subway? Thanks!

              1. re: a_and_w
                b
                babar ganesh Aug 7, 2006 11:16 PM

                ok, so i won't cross it off my list. but i haven't been able to go anywhere but difaras when i'm in that neighborhood lately, so it might be a while before it get back.

                also, i've been able to get decent pita-esque food from pita hot in astoria 5 minutes from home, so i haven't been traveling for it. pita hot is pretty good but i wouldn't consider it a destination if you're not close.

                1. re: a_and_w
                  bigmackdaddy Aug 8, 2006 12:22 AM

                  Mr Falafel is Egyptian. They have whole bean salads such as Fava, Chickpea, etc. They also have the tomato, cucumber and pepper mix with or without feta cheese. It's a great place. And even though it's not Israeli style the comparable dishes they serve in my opinion are pretty good. The Q, F and 2 &3 trains all stop within a half mile of there. Take the Q to 7th Ave and walk about 11 blocks to 7th Avenue between 3rd and 4th Streets (or transfer to the B67 heading to Kensington and get off at 3rd Street). The F train stops at 7th Avenue and 9th street so you walk down around five blocks. The 2&3 trains stop at Grand Army Plaza which can be disorienting. You have to find your way down to St. John's Pl and walk down to 7th Avenue, hook a left and walk down about 9 blocks. I will say however that Mr Falafel's pita comes nowhere close to tasting as good as Olympic's. I believe they us Sahadi from a bag.

                  Now, I have a question in general about "Israeli" style. When places like Famous and Olympic say "style" is it the same thing where Katz's says "kosher style"? I ask this because I believe Famous and Olympic are run by Lubavitcher. Lubavitcher with American accents I might add. The Lubavitcher came from Belarus to the States. A country not really close to the Mid-East. I would think Lubavitcher cooking would be closer to Satmar (Rumanian) influence rather than Israeli. I guess I am questioning the authenticity. Too me it would be like having Muslims from Indonesia cooking their interpretation of Arabic food. Am I off base with this?

          2. spchang Aug 6, 2006 08:42 PM

            Although I didn't have as bad an experience as you did, I was disappointed in Olympic Pita as well. The other bread (besides pita) was very dry and old and the schwarma was also dry and uninteresting. The best part was the salad options, but not worth it for multiple trips.

            9 Replies
            1. re: spchang
              jen kalb Aug 6, 2006 10:39 PM

              they have a yemeni chicken soup that is really good at Olympic - some of the salads in the assorted israeli salad item are very good esp with the bread, others are blah. We had a positively bad experience with the turkey schwarma a couple of years ago - dry and greasy both. I like the felafel up the road a bit (is it Famous?) quite a lot better esp if you get a nice wad of browned onions.

              1. re: jen kalb
                bigmackdaddy Aug 7, 2006 02:39 AM

                I used to stop at Famous when I drove a cab. Not a bad place but I still like Mr. Falafel better.

                1. re: bigmackdaddy
                  jen kalb Aug 7, 2006 02:42 AM

                  its a very different style from Mr. Felafel which I like too (more for the kefta and other things than the felafel itself). You have to get all the cabbage salad, browned onions, etc at Famous to get the full effect of the Israeli felafel there.

                  1. re: jen kalb
                    bigmackdaddy Aug 7, 2006 04:59 AM

                    I'm a big fan of Mister Falafel's kibbeh balls and fava bean salad myself. I have had the browned onions, etc at Famous. It's a decent place. Certainly better than Olympic. Actually, I remember this real good Israeli place on Ave P and CIA that was the absolute bomb with their falafel as well as the pita bread. I wish I remembered the name. I shall look for it the next time I go on my bike ride to Gateway.

                    1. re: jen kalb
                      j
                      josh L Aug 8, 2006 04:14 AM

                      first off, mr. felafel is egyptian food, totally different style then olympic pita, which is israeli. it's comparing apples and oranges. the staff at olympic may be a bit rude at times but i've always enjoyed everything from the laffa, to the crunchy little felafel balls, to the fiery, yet tangy amba, to the free salad bar, some of it can be a bit greasy but its free, to the juicy turkey schwarma- dont order it if its almost finished. mr. felafel, on the other hand, honestly i've never great understood what the fuss is. it's no better then hundreds of felafel joints scattered around the city. the felafels are heavy, greasy, tasteless, sometimes undercooked and mealy and served in a crappy store bought pita, with terrible lettuce and tomato and store bought hot sauce. blah.

                      1. re: jen kalb
                        p
                        Peter Cherches Aug 8, 2006 03:54 PM

                        I'm a big fan of Mr. Falafel himself (Ali). Great guy. He spends more time at Pita Pan these days, though, the place he bought from the family of awful ethnic Chinese restaurateurs who owned Fuji San and probably its replacement.

                    2. re: jen kalb
                      a_and_w Aug 7, 2006 11:04 PM

                      Odd, I always considered the falafel at Olympic and Famous to be pretty interchangeable, but I don't recall the browned onions at the former. Time for another trip!

                      1. re: a_and_w
                        bigmackdaddy Aug 8, 2006 12:25 AM

                        If you mean cooked onions, then no they didn't have those. By brown onions I thought Jen Kalb meant the raw onions with the spice powder on top.

                        1. re: bigmackdaddy
                          jen kalb Aug 8, 2006 01:56 AM

                          no, I meant cooked, caramelized onions. They really add another dimension of flavor and richness to the sandwich, along with the shredded cabbage.

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