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Gazala's - Excellent falafel on the UWS

j
jaba Dec 5, 2010 09:57 AM

As are many on here, I've been very disappointed at the quality of food on the UWS. Yeah, there are high-end places, but for quality food at reasonable prices, there's not much. However, today I tried the falafel sandwich at Gazala's - 78th and Columbus - and found it to be excellent and reasonably priced ($4.50).

The bread it comes on is an incredibly thin bread that is handmade daily. The hummus on the sandwich was great with a nice tahini flavor, and the falafel were very flavorful and very light. It's a different sandwich than my other two standard-bearers in Manhattan, Taim and Cafe Azuri, in that there's not a lot else going on in the sandwich so that the hummus and falafel flavors shine through.

We did takeout, but the restaurant itself is quite attractive, and I'm looking forward to getting back and trying some of the other offerings.

Definitely highly recommended.

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Gazala's
380 Columbus Ave, New York, NY 10024

  1. coasts Dec 5, 2010 10:26 AM

    i agree that the food is quite good. unfortunately, we'll likely never go back. for whatever reason, they chose the most uncomfortable chairs to sit on. i'd almost rather stand than have to suffer that seat again. i'm not a small person, so not every chair suits me, but i watched as nearly everyone in the restaurant not seated on the bench wiggled and squirmed throughout the duration of their meal. several people went so far as to cozy up next to their SOs on the bench seats, abandoning their chairs completely. it's a shame, because the food was good, the service was great and the prices were reasonable.

    1. g
      gng2102 Dec 13, 2010 07:46 AM

      Gazala’s offers disappointment and earned my disrespect. I went with a friend and we ordered the babaganush, moshakal, and a special which was a zucchini stuffed with rice and topped with a “tomato sauce.” The babaganush never came. The moshakal was a combo of lamb, chicken, and kafta and the lamb was so fatty that I spit most of it in my napkin. The zucchini was one of the better things we ate which meant it was mediocre. It came topped with a “tomato sauce” which I am convinced was a can of Campbell’s soup condensed tomato soup. The biggest surprise was when the check came and the zucchini special cost $25.50. The price of entrees was $13-$17 so we were shocked that zucchini filled with rice would cost so much. I left feeling taken advantage of and completely unsatisfied.

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      Gazala's
      380 Columbus Ave, New York, NY 10024

      6 Replies
      1. re: jaba
        c
        CatoUWS Dec 13, 2010 01:01 PM

        I have to second exactly the same experience. Four of us had dinner at Gazala on Saturday evening. We were told the specials, without mention of any prices. Two of us ordered from the menu, where most prices were in the 12.95 to 14.95 range; the highest I recall were a couple at 17.95. One of the others ordered the stuffed zucchini, which were nice but uninspired and, to be blunt, dull. The fourth ordered the special whole fish, which came redolent of garlic and was good. But imagine our shock when the check came and we found that the zucchini were $ 25 and change and the fish (as I recall) $ 27 and change! I really felt that this was a "gotcha". If specials are going to be priced at *twice* the cost of on-menu items, then wait-staff should say so.

        I would also second the posting about seating, except my reaction was that there are simply too many tables crammed into the space. While I understand the need to maximize revenue, it was *so* uncomfortable that we will think twice about returning -- quite literally, three of us had our backs up to the backs of people at surrounding tables, while the fourth was seated in the aisle and so was continually jostled by the wait staff, who had no choice but to go that way. Taking out a table or two will go a long way toward establishing good will.

        With all of that said, the food was very good, and I would *love* to want to go back. But the uncomfortable setting and the "gotcha" pricing just give me pause.

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        Gazala's
        380 Columbus Ave, New York, NY 10024

        1. re: CatoUWS
          p
          Pan Dec 13, 2010 08:21 PM

          I agree with you that they should state the price of the specials, but as customers, we also have a responsibility to ourselves to ask the prices if we care at all about costs.

          I respect your experience, but I do have trouble relating to complaints about cramped quarters, if you're referring to the uptown location, because I have been more often to the Hell's Kitchen location, which really IS cramped. In comparison, the uptown location is very spacious. For the record, I prefer the cheaper midtown location, due to the price differential, but have had delicious meals (well, at the uptown location, meal) at both locations.

          1. re: Pan
            c
            CatoUWS Dec 14, 2010 02:00 PM

            I don't know when you were at the UWS location, but when I have to sit with my chest pressed up against the table -- with two other people in exactly the same situation, and the fourth sitting directly in the staff's serving path -- I say that "really IS cramped".

            And we do "care at all about costs", since we have to, thanks very much. But when the menu sets a range of prices, I think it's fair to assume that the other items offered that night are not *twice* as much as other prices in that range. When the restaurant doesn't tell me (or anyone else) those surprisingly excessive prices, I am put out not so much because of the extra dollars I have to pay as because there has been a clear decision made by the operators of the restaurant to conceal those charges until it's too late. Sure, if I go back, I'll ask the prices on the specials, though I shouldn't have to -- but I don't like being taken advantage of in the way that happened here. That's why I'm doubtful we'll go back -- not because we failed in our own "responsibility to ourselves to ask the prices".

            I don't go into a restaurant wanting to be on my guard to protect myself from gouging -- just as I don't go into a restaurant to have my chest pressed up against the table from which I have to eat.

            1. re: CatoUWS
              coasts Dec 14, 2010 02:30 PM

              Cato, I completely agree with you about the pricing issue. Ms. Coasts and I had dinner at Fatty Crab some time ago. the entrees were all priced around $25 or less, if i remember. she ordered a crab special and we were shocked to find out it was more than double the cost of everything else on the menu. we felt cheated and haven't returned since.

              pan is right that, as consumers, we're ultimately responsible for the decisions we make, but i agree with you that we shouldn't have to be on guard when ordering. had Ms. Coasts and I been on a first date, asking the price of the crab would have been uncomfortable for both of us.

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              Fatty Crab
              643 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

              1. re: CatoUWS
                p
                Pan Dec 14, 2010 02:47 PM

                I was at that location not too long after the restaurant opened. I guess they've put in many more tables?

                coasts, I also agree with Cato on the pricing issue, as should be clear. Except for one thing: I really think it is ill-advised to _ever_ assume _anything_ about pricing.

          2. re: gng2102
            p
            paperpest Dec 14, 2010 12:26 PM

            I too second gng2102's disappointment with the food. I had the lunch special of lentil soup and the chicken wrap. Tasteless soup, and to my tongue tasted like split pea not lentil. The chicken was bland, the rest of the wrap was filled with chopped tomatoes, lettuce all drenched in tahini.

          3. s
            Seth Dec 13, 2010 10:09 AM

            Oddly, I and my friend ordered many dishes on our first trip to Galala's this past Friday evening, and the falafel was the only one I didn't enjoy-- way too much salt!

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            Gazala's
            380 Columbus Ave, New York, NY 10024

            1. p
              Pan Jan 16, 2011 09:40 PM

              For all the complaints about the Upper West Side location, I'm here to tell you that the high quality of the Hell's Kitchen branch is undiminished. I went there for dinner with my girlfriend tonight. We shared the off-menu mixed meat/vegetarian meze platter, a pot of mint tea, and a baklava. $37 and change before tip, and just as delicious as ever. I got a full order of the great baba ghanouj and labne to go for my father for $13.

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