It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Middle Eastern food.
See Exhibit A.
And Exhibit B.
Amongst other, not-yet-documented moments.
So when my friend Beth and I needed a quick snack to fuel us during a recent Saturday of errands, we went by way of falafel.
A quick duck into a semi-new Middle Eastern restaurant gave us the opportunity to check out their menu, and power up to … power on. (Although to be completely accurate, this restaurant is designated as Turkish Mediterranean)
A non-descript restaurant in a blink-and-you-miss-it strip mall, Ephesus is about seven months old (new owners, new menu, taken over from the previous Bosphorous), and our takeaway on the place can be summed up in two sentences.
The chef needs to find the salt shaker.
We were greeted within minutes of sitting down by our two-days-on-the-job waiter. We asked for water while going over the menu. When it came out with two, sad little specks of floating ice, we asked for more. Which is when we got a bowlful of the ice.
With the hole in the center of each one.
Since it was the middle of the day (past lunch and too early for dinner), we decided to stick with appetizers, going with falafel and babagannus (their spelling).
They both arrived less than 10 minutes later and we started to dig in.
The falafel was hot and crispy on the outside, with an odd almost-pureed, slightly mushy like consistency on the inside.
They weren’t bad. Just not like any falafel we had ever had before, consistency-wise.
And they totally needed salt.
I am an admitted saltaholic, I know, but trust me on this.
The babagannus had a smoky flavor that came through with every bite, but beyond that, it definitely lacked seasoning (and the aforementioned salt). It was almost like it was a new chef who was afraid of being too heavy-handed with the seasoning, so he went in the complete opposite direction.
Which is almost just as bad.
The waiter was decent. He hovered a lot and watched us. Not necessarily for cues for when we needed something, but just watching period. Most of it we will chalk up to new-job-jitters.
The service was brisk, the restaurant clean, items reasonably priced, and the staff friendly. There is ample parking right in front, and they offer local delivery as well. The tv blaring in the corner was a little weird, as was the completely random mix of music piped through the speakers.
The menu is rather extensive, featuring everything from fried eggplant and calamari to fried chicken livers and french fries. I wish it was more refined, instead concentrating on cultural specialties, and not trying to appeal to the masses. Would we go again? Yes. I think it’s worth it to try out a few more items. Their Lahmacun (thin crust Turkish style pizza) has gotten good reviews, and is next on our list.
490 East Main Street
Denville, NJ 07834