Before we review the food, let it be noted that Mike Solomonov is our ultimate food crush. So naturally, we had already been liking and tagging each other in all photographic versions of the entrees offered at Goldie, Solomonov’s new vegan falafel restaurant in Center City, since it opened in April. We were not, therefore, surprised by the menu – which, like his other acclaimed restaurant, Dizengoff, focuses on perfecting just one dish: in this case, falafel with tahini. Both of us spent gap years in Israel, which may or may not have consisted of internal checklists of restaurants to try, so we weren’t exactly strangers to Israeli cuisine – some might even call us experts. Did we frequent every falafel shop in Jerusalem AND Tel Aviv and gain at least ten pounds in the process? Yes we did. But hey, we’re not bragging.
Walking into the restaurant was a bit like taking a portal back to our gap years, with a high end twist. In Israel, falafel places are usually over–crowded and hot, with sweaty cashiers yelling in multiple languages and lots of pushing. Israelis stand around with their sandwiches in hand, or else elbow their way to one of the three tiny tables in the back. We appreciated the authenticity that Goldie tries to recreate – with not only small tables for sitting, but also a standing bar so you can schmooze while quickly eating your messy falafel sandwich. The service was fast enough to allow for a grab–and–go meal, but the ambiance was also nice enough to sit back and enjoy a leisurely meal.
After ordering exactly everything offered on the menu – a falafel sandwich in pita from Dizengoff, a falafel salad, a side of fries, and every flavor of tahini shake — we waited (im)patiently for our photographer to arrive. We waited some more, salivating over the hot and beautiful food, and dared each other to nibble the tiniest amounts of the perfectly spiced and crispy french fries and then rearrange so that our photographer wouldn’t notice. Minutes, which felt like hours, later, when the food was finally photographed from every angle, we dug in.
The falafel was everything it promised to be – crunchy on the outside, spiced perfectly, and covered in creamy tahini. We recommend eating it fast and not letting it sit, so the falafel balls don’t get soggy in the tahini. The salad was light and crisp, with fresh mint, dill, parsley, zaatar, and lemon juice. While the rest of the food is classics perfected, the tahini shakes are Goldie’s innovative invention. There are four flavors: original, turkish coffee, mint chocolate chip, and coconut. If you’re vegan, you’re no stranger to cashew or coconut based milk shakes. Goldie’s milkshakes are instead sesame–based, and the sesame flavor is embraced rather than hidden. They are the creamiest, most delicious halva that you’ve ever tasted (if you’ve never tasted halva – get on that. It’s a sweet sesame dessert) in drink form. That being said, our absolute favorites were original and Turkish coffee, which had pieces of halva on top (double whammy!). The only caveat we feel compelled to mention is that the mint chocolate chip and coconut were overwhelming when mixed with the already strong and interesting–on–its–own sesame flavor.
So whether you’re snooping for a good sandwich place to procrastinate your math homework for multiple hours, Goldie is definitely the place to go. We had almost no complaints–except that our stomachs were simply not large enough to contain all the food we wanted to eat.
Plus – this just in! – not only is Goldie vegan, but it’s certified kosher too! What we mean by this is: Tahini shakes for everyone! Start supplying them at all your Hillel meetings and events!