When going out to lunch with a big group of friends, it's always hard to find a place that fits everyone's taste. Even when it's only 8 people, you tend to run into trouble. Chances are that at least one person hates Mexican food, another one is tired of sushi, a third one doesn't like Indian food, someone recently had food poisoning after a bad batch of Pad Thai, and at least one person doesn't eat meat. [On a side note, although I respect the principles behind vegetarianism, I have to say: cows, pigs, and chickens taste GOOD] Another possibility is that everyone is so easy-going or too well mannered to express a preference, and the end result is the same: it takes forever to choose a restaurant.
In our case, we had just finished our last exam of the academic year, and I was pretty darn hungry. However, despite the hypoglycemia, my friends were still in the mood to be easy-going/well-mannered, with nearly everyone giving the same response: "I don't care where we go." Luckily for me, my friend Johanna had a few suggestions up her sleeve, including one that pleased even the meat-hater in our group: we decided to go to Hummus Place in the East Village.
Hummus isn't exactly a staple in Chinese households, and it's still something that I don't eat very often - not because I don't like it, but because I just don't tend to think about it. Because of this lack of experience, I'm not exactly a hummus connoisseur, but I personally thought that Hummus Place had the best hummus that I've tried thus far.
They have a nice lunch special, where you can choose a hummus entree and an appetizer for $7.95. The people sitting closest to me all chose the Hummus Tahini, which looked beautiful. For those who aren't familiar with it, Tahini is a paste of lightly roasted, ground sesame seeds that is normally a major component of hummus, but can also be found in Chinese, Korean, and Japanese dishes. The Hummus Tahini was just regular hummus with extra Tahini topping and a hint of spices. I snapped a picture of Daniella's since she was sitting next to me, but it was Tiff who gave me the review: "Good, and the sesame flavor of the Tahini is solid, but it would be nicer with extra garlic flavor."
Daniella chose the Falafel appetizer, which she barely touched. This was mostly because they served it after her hummus had already arrived, and she was full by the time she got to it.
I chose the stuffed grape leaves as my appetizer, and these were served with a mint yogurt sauce. I'm not a big fan of yogurt in general, and I thought the mint yogurt sauce was a bit too sour and detracted from what would have been very good stuffed grape leaves. To be fair though, the sourness of the yogurt did bring out the sweetness of the rice in the grape leaves (even though I still wish that the dish had been unadorned). My friend Tiff actually really liked the mint yogurt sauce, and thought that the mint flavor was strong, but not over-powering. She liked it enough to eat with the baked pita alone.
As my entree, I selected the Hummus Mushrooms, which I highly recommend to anyone without a mushroom allergy. [The dish was good, but probably not quite yummy enough to risk anaphylaxis] The mushrooms were sauteed with olive oil and sweet onions, and this sweetness went well with the otherwise mild flavor of mashed chickpeas. Even better is the fact that it was super filling, but low-carb. Well... correction: the hummus was low-carb. The pitas that I ate with it - not so much. The pitas were warm when they arrived, and fluffy. There were also both wheat and processed-flour varieties - with my preference being for the wheat.
A part of me was hesitant to write a review on Hummus Place, because Johanna is a major fan, and considers it very close to her heart. During the meal she informed me (in as pleasant a way as possible given the underlying threat) that I "better give it a good review. OR ELSE." Since I'm a stickler for honesty though, I wouldn't have lied, even had I NOT enjoyed the food. Anyway, since I DID enjoy it a lot, I guess it's now a moot point... and Johanna - if you're reading this: good choice!
Overall rating: 8/10