Fresh falafal and more in cramped Cambridge quarters (CALENDAR January 2, 1992 Page 5)
What Moody’s Falafal Palace lacks in décor-and it lacks just about everything-It makes up for in other ways. The food is fresh and good. The service is fast and friendly. The prices are almost embarrassingly low.
At some point in the past, the premises were home to a White Castle hamburger stand, and the little building still sports fake ramparts. Inside, though, Moody’s is anything but palatial. About half the interior is taken up by the grill and the counter, where proprietor Moody Kassar presides. There are only eight seats, and very little standing room. The place is so small that when all the seats are taken you have to be careful you don’t step on anybody as you’re making your way to the counter to place an order.
Understandably, then, a lot of Moody’s business is take-out. When there are no seats available, some customers order sandwiches to go and eat them standing up, on the sidewalk outside the palace door. Would you rather eat something good standing up, or something not-so-good sitting down? Seekers of cheap eats don’t have to think twice about the answer to that question.
Falafal is indeed the main, but not the only, attraction at Moody’s. The large-ish patties of ground chickpeas are crispy on the outside, and nicely spiced inside. It can be ordered on a plate, three falafal with salad and pita bread ($2.25). I liked it best as a sandwich, rolled up in a toasted pita, with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and tahini sauce. ($2.25)
All Moody’s sandwiches are served with the same garnishes, unless you specify otherwise. The kababs-beef ($2.50), chicken ($2.50) and lamb ($2.75) were OK, but the real sandwich standout was a surprise: grape leaves. Warm, lemony grape leaves stuffed with ground lamb and rice ($2.50) are tucked into a toasted pita with the standard accompaniments. It was unusual and delicious.
Moody turns out a light, almost delicate kibby, the Middle Eastern-style meatloaf made of ground lamb and bulgar. It can be ordered in a Sandwich ($2.50), or on a plate with salad ($3.95), or with yogurt, salad and excellent rice pilaf ($5.25).
The menu is simple, consisting of variations and combinations of a handful of dishes. The most expensive item is $5.75, a combination plate of chicken or beef kabab, falafal, homus and Moody’s wonderfully smokey baba ghanouj.
Moussaka ($3.95), bore no resemblance to any other moussaka I’ve ever encountered. It’s not the traditional Greek version, the custard-crowned mixture of ground lamb and eggplant. This was more of an eggplant stew, a dark, rich concoction served with rice pilaf. Moody is Syrian, so perhaps this is a Syrian version of the dish.
For dessert try the baklava (99 cents) and avoid the rice pudding (99 cents), unless you’re extremely- and I mean extremely-fond of rose water.
– DIANE WHITE