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What happened to ChickPea??!!!??

a
aram Aug 21, 2007 09:33 AM

Went to Chickpea on 14th and 3rd yesterday and was really disappointed.

Looks like they're baking their falafel now.

What's up with that?

It tasted dry and bland.

This used to be one of my favorites snack places in the city.

Next time you're there tell them to go back to the fried version!

  1. princeofpork Aug 21, 2007 10:00 AM

    Oh No!!! THis is my favorite falafel spot in the city. I hope it was just an off day.

    3 Replies
    1. re: princeofpork
      a
      aram Aug 21, 2007 10:15 AM

      I don't think it was. The woman there said they're baking they're falafel!

      They're doing it for health reasons!

      I don't care about my heart!

      I want good falafel!

      1. re: aram
        princeofpork Aug 21, 2007 10:36 AM

        They just lost one customer.

        1. re: aram
          m
          MikeG Aug 21, 2007 11:52 AM

          I'd never eaten there but passed by one recently, thought "hmm, falafel?", took a few steps inside, saw the sign that said "baked", and turned around without a second thought. That's a selling point? To whom? Fortunately my neighborhood place is both decent and deep-fries, so I guess it's just more for those people who actually prefer it dry and tasteless. LOL

      2. e
        EVKeith Aug 21, 2007 10:52 AM

        They're serving up odd little cylindrical falafel pucks now, completely devoid of
        flavor. Unpleasant, but edible if you pour plenty of tahini and harissa over them. Ive crossed Chickpea off my list for good.

        1. k
          kobetobiko Aug 21, 2007 11:11 AM

          There was an article in NYM about ChickPea started to bake their falafel instead of frying as they are starting to expand.

          http://nymag.com/daily/food/2007/07/f...

          2 Replies
          1. re: kobetobiko
            a
            aram Aug 21, 2007 12:20 PM

            i'm so sad!

            THere's got to be a rule against restaurants that have a good think going changing.

            McDonald's would never change the secret sauce on it's big mac.

            And chickpea shouldn't bake their falafel.

            1. re: aram
              m
              mstropicana Aug 23, 2007 06:36 AM

              I loved Chick Pea a while back but for the last month or so I was not impressed. rumor has it that it is new mgt.

          2. j
            joelm Aug 21, 2007 06:46 PM

            I ate there Sunday. I would say that anyone who takes a perfectly good product and makes it worse has courage.
            It's a lot more expensive, the hummas even with the flavor was nothing great, and the place was empty. I give them 6 months.

            OTOH Moaz has lines out of the store. (well deserved I might add -)

            1. teresa Aug 21, 2007 07:05 PM

              Yup, they only have baked falafel now. I was pretty disappointed because it just doesn't taste the same anymore. I liked the crunchiness. :(

              1. streamwise Aug 22, 2007 12:36 AM

                I used to like their falafel. I went in for the baked product once and it was bloody awful....it had no crunch and the interior tasted uncooked. They were baking it on a conveyor belt grill, which obviously didn't have nearly enough thermal output to heat the falafel and/or form a crust on the outside.

                1. l
                  littlebites Aug 22, 2007 05:42 AM

                  I had eaten at the Astor Place location a few times within about a two month period. The last time I went, about a week or two ago I had the new baked falafel, but I didn't know it was the new falafel until i started eating and thought...what is this? As far as the chickpea flavor goes, its consistent, but the texture loss due to baking and the weird shape just lost it for me. I'm over chickpea! (sadly over it)

                  1. erin07nyc Aug 22, 2007 09:26 AM

                    I bet it has something to do with avoiding trans fats, though it is unfortunate that the quality has suffered. It was actually on my list of lunch places to try... oh well. Hopefully someone will post if there's any news on them switching back to frying.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: erin07nyc
                      j
                      joelm Aug 22, 2007 11:13 AM

                      I asked them about it and the clerk said it was the trans-fat but I don't buy it. There is oil in the baked ones (for pan release if nothing else) and you can always fry in other oils - as other falafel companies do. I have a sneaking suspicion that the real reason was that if you can just force the falafel mix into a mold and send it into a conveyor belt oven then you don't have a bottleneck of one pretty skilled person needed to use the scoop to make the falafel balls and you can expand (as they are planning) to a lot of locations without having skilled staff. The store on 14th street has fewer people working there at the moment.
                      I wouldn't however bet money that they will survive in NYC with this formula. Maybe elsewhere where you can't get the real thing (remember Springfield and Rev. Lovejoy's wife selling "flavor patties" )

                      1. re: joelm
                        k
                        kobetobiko Aug 22, 2007 11:18 AM

                        Hi joelm,

                        You are right about the expansion. See my link to NYM above. There was an article about it.

                    2. k
                      KeriT Aug 22, 2007 09:32 AM

                      I'm really sad about this, Chickpea was one of my favorite indulgences; I didn't go there to eat something healthy! I was thinking of going today but I guess my plans have changed.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: KeriT
                        p
                        PhishFoodie Aug 22, 2007 11:18 AM

                        yeah i was craving it for lunch today too, but remembered that when i got it recently it was different...then noticed the new delivery menu that mentioned baked falafel. i thought it was ok, but kind of like dry veggie burger nuggets,but not really falafel like.

                        i'll be sticking to mamouns and hoomos asli. just enjoyed having chickpea as another option for a while!

                        1. re: PhishFoodie
                          princeofpork Aug 22, 2007 11:44 AM

                          Next time you go in look at the prices. They have all increased. They also have all these different flavored humus now. Pine nut and roasted red pepper?!?!?! Forget it.

                          1. re: princeofpork
                            p
                            PhishFoodie Aug 22, 2007 12:25 PM

                            i know! i checked out the whole new menu-most of the prices went up and they are preaching "healty" now... all different flavors of falafel as well- it's not falafel anymore- it really is flavored veggie nuggets!

                            1. re: PhishFoodie
                              a
                              aram Aug 23, 2007 04:44 AM

                              Just walked past the third ave location last night on my way to Curly's. $4.55 for a falafel!

                              My girlfriend's jaw dropped and we both started sobbing. It was too much.

                              What has the world come to?

                      2. c
                        censorone Aug 23, 2007 07:12 AM

                        what about the shawarma? anyone tried it since the falafel recipe changed?

                        1. a
                          andrewr Nov 1, 2007 10:11 AM

                          Because I missed this thread earlier and went to Chickpea yesterday, I can confirm that they haven't gone back to fried falafel. The baked falafel doesn't have the same crunch or flavor that chickpea's old product used to have. The falafel is mushy and uninspired. Plus, the inferior product is now significantly more expensive.

                          Sorry, Chickpea, you're Dead To Me.

                          1. m
                            marlie202 Nov 1, 2007 06:09 PM

                            I tried all the different flavors of the baked falafels and my favorite is the broccoli one--the flavored hummus is good too-they take a bit of getting used to--
                            \if you want a nice fresh crunchy fried falafel--Mamoun's hits the spot-$2.50

                            1. p
                              piccola Nov 2, 2007 09:40 AM

                              OK, I'm going to play devil's advocate here: the falafel is bad because it's bad, not because it's baked. You can make tasty (though always different) baked falafel - the problem is that Chickpea doesn't.

                              But no worries, I'm sure they'll change back once they realize they're losing business. If you want to speed things up, why not start a petition (or mail them a printout of this thread)... ;-)

                              1. w
                                windycity Nov 2, 2007 12:42 PM

                                AAARRRGH! I have been wondering for a month and a half what was wrong. At first I thought it was because I was going to their 14th St location as opposed to the one by St Marks's, but now I see what has been missing all along - fried fatty flavor!

                                I've also noticed the same thing at Mamoun's falafel - don't tell me that they are baking as well!!!

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: windycity
                                  m
                                  marlie202 Nov 4, 2007 10:28 AM

                                  I ate a falafel yesterday from Mamouns on St. Marks--I brought it home and ate it and it was dry and tastless=-I was disappointed-

                                  1. re: marlie202
                                    a
                                    aram Nov 5, 2007 03:10 AM

                                    mamouns and all the other falafel places on that block are a joke. You get what you pay for.

                                2. e
                                  Eddie H. Nov 5, 2007 03:30 AM

                                  So now that the consensus is that Chickpea and Mamoun's are no longer good for falafel, who has the best falafel?

                                  ~Eddie
                                  http://oeno.blogspot.com

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Eddie H.
                                    erin07nyc Nov 5, 2007 09:36 AM

                                    I am not an expert, and I will admit that I've been going there only because it's so close, but I like Cafe Rakka a lot. I've had falafel or the falafel/hummus combo 5 times now from the ave B location (near 4th st, I think), and I've always enjoyed it. While I could complain that the tomatoes have been on the flavorless side, I've found all the other prepared ingredients to be fresh and tasty. And all this time I've been wondering if I should be going to St Marks to try Mamoun's...

                                  2. m
                                    Muffin Nov 5, 2007 12:08 PM

                                    I went to the same location last weekend and also was disappointed with their falafels. Also disappointing is that they took off fries off the menu, too! We asked them why, and the girl behind the counter said they decided to go all "healthy". Anyway, we had to run to the corner deli to get some fries. The food was not as enjoyable as it used to be. Now I will only go to Taim.

                                    1. a
                                      asg749d Nov 7, 2007 01:37 PM

                                      They have been baking their falafels for months now...

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: asg749d
                                        a
                                        aram Nov 7, 2007 02:21 PM

                                        yeah and they suck.

                                        I've sent several emails to their contact chickpea email, and never received a response.

                                        Yesterday I went in at dinner time, just to guage the scene , and the person behind the window looked at me, and then started talking to someone else there. After a minute I left.

                                        Needless to say, in the height of dinner time, the place was empty.

                                        Chickpea is now dead to me.

                                        I think it will not be long before they o out of business.

                                        The saddest thing is when a company has something very good going on, and then they have to go and screw it up.

                                        Isn't the main rule of thumb in the restaurant business not to fiddle with the recipes that people like?

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