Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Half Moon Cafe - Coburg

  Half Moon Cafe! For years I have been insisting that people come here to try the falafels, waxing lyrical about how they are the best of the best in Melbourne. "How could I be sure?" the unfortunate souls I'd ambush exiting Falafel Kitchen would ask. My response was always along the lines of "well, I've heard...I mean, people say they're good and...hey, just eat the damn falafels, alright!"

No, I do not own shares in the business. And yes, shameful as it is for me to admit, I had never actually tried one of their falafels for myself and had just gone by hearsay. Reliable hearsay, but hearsay nonetheless. Well all that changes now!

After getting my Ottolenghi/Delia on in the Middle East earlier in the year, you can consider me a self-proclaimed connoisseur of the falafel ball. And if you have read my "blogging on the road: Israel" post, you'll know I have a particular soft spot for the original falafel - the Egyptian falafel. Conveniently, Half Moon Cafe are purveyors of exactly that, which I imagine goes some way to explaining their reputation as being one of the best in town. Where Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and...well, most of the Middle East make their falafel out of predominantly chickpeas, the Egyptian version has a fava bean base. At Half Moon, the falafel mix is part fava bean and part broad bean, with some coriander, garlic and various other herbs and spices thrown in for good measure. What is refreshing is that the falafels here are made on the spot from a fresh falafel mix. Not the re-heated, mass produced rubbish found at far too many late night outlets.

Yep, falafels are serious business here and there is a plethora of options on the menu to choose from. We settled on the signature Half Moon falafel, and the Colibaba (both a generous size at $7.50 each). Myself and my accomplice were keen to try both, and the guys behind the counter were only too happy to oblige and serve them up in halves for us. Our opinions were divided. For me, the signature Half Moon came out on top. The wrap is generously laced with lettuce, rocket, tabouli, chickpeas, hummus, yoghurt, tahini, black olives and pickles...oh, and let's not forget the falafels themselves. Yep, all that in one wrap! The saltiness of the olives mixing with the tang of the various pickles just gives the wrap an extra zing that...well, it just does it for me. The Colibaba has what I would define as a more mature taste. The wrap consists of freshly grilled cauliflower and eggplant, babaganoush, yoghurt, lettuce and rocket, and was top dog according to my amigo. I personally feel it's more of a formal, sit-down falafel wrap - mainly because I have never before had cauliflower in wrap form - whilst the Half Moon is more of an 'eat on the go' type of deal. I have to say though, both were pretty damn good. In fact, I will happily go as far as to say that these are the number one falafels I have tasted in Melbourne. For an extra few $$$, you can order your meal on a plate instead of in a wrap, take a seat out the front, and soak in the cultural stew that is Coburg life passing by whilst chowing down on some deliciously crispy falafel balls. Mark this one down on your bucket list chums. It's a Good'un!


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