Showing posts with label Melrose. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Melrose. Show all posts

Friday, November 25, 2011

Pitaway on Melrose, Los Angeles

I entered Pitaway on Melrose after seeing the huge sign of grand opening outside. Everyone loves grand openings So I had to enter, hoping for a new love affair with this new place. I learned it’s the second Pitaway in Los Angeles – which might hint they’re hoping to become a franchise. Everything in the look of the store shouts FRANCHISE. It doesn't look like a fast food place but rather like a modern fast food restaurant. That said, the middle eastern restaurant that was there before them - Muma, which was reviewed in this blog in the past - also shouted Franchise – and yet apparently it didn’t make it into a franchise- so I’ll keep my fingers crossed for this one. I think LA does deserve a middle eastern restaurant chain with good and fast falafel. This place is new – so I’ll revisit it in a few month after they solve some of their opening quirks. Wanting this place to succeed – I’ll give my own humble opinion what they need to work on in order to succeed in a very competitive street like Melrose. But would love to hear what other people think of this new place:


This restaurant has the logo of a fast food place, the décor of a fast food place, the overall energy of a fast food place, and yet extremely slow food service. The secrets of a fast food franchise is that they nailed down a way to serve their food fast. Doesn’t matter if it’s a Chipotle, Wendy’s, Subway, Fat Burger… Each one has their own method of ensuring that the food is served fast. To me it seemed like this place didn’t have any real organized and institutionalized plan how to ensure the customer gets their food fast and it wasn’t a priority for anyone in the place. It took over 15 minutes to get a falafel in a lafah breah. I appreciated the falafel being fresh but having to wait in a nearly empty restaurant for 15 minutes showed that there’s no respect for the customers time. Since this is the second restaurant with the same name and concept in LA – and the other one already exists for several years – it proves there’s no real plan how to make sure customers don’t spend too much time in the restaurant before getting fed.


The pricing is decent for middle eastern restaurants. Plates are about $11, Pitas $8-9 While it’s not expensive – I think they’re still 10% more than what will make them really competitive and allow them to take of. The woman at the cash register boasted on the fact they’re Kosher which indeed is a huge plus being close to La Brea and the Jewish ultra Orthodox district – but for the general audience it’s not a deal breaker. With so many options on Melrose – and even a highly competitive Indian lunch buffet almost across the street – I believe that $10 is the limit most people will pay for most fast meals. They might get people to come once and try them out – but in order to get repeat business – they need to lower their prices.


I was highly disappointed they served pickles made in brine and not Pickles in salt. For the non middle easterns reading this blog - to illustrate the difference - assume you're going to a Mexican restauran and instead of corn chips they serve you Cheetos and the waiter tells you it's the same...
Or assume you go to a Chinese restaurant and instead of fried rice they serve you french fries and tell you it's the same...
Get the point?
Every cuisine - has some elements that are a make or break and salted pickles are a must for an authentic middle eastern cuisine.

For many middle eastern food lovers- not having pickles in salt is a deal breaker and that’s why many middle eastern restaurants serve their customers unlimited pickles in salt with each order. Moreover – what made matters worse is they have a free pickled vegetable salad that doesn’t have pickles. I noticed everyone who purchased food after me took the plastic plate they give you to the pickled salad bar and noticing the lack of pickles – joked about it angrily and threw the plate to the garbage without taking anything. Hopefully that’s not the plan – but why would a restaurant want to anger it’s customers on something so trivial and so obvious? It’s a great way to lose customers who are fans of middle eastern food. Portions: I ordered a falafel in a lafah – a middle eastern version of a burrito. It usually costs more than a pita and is supposed to hold much more food. Perhaps other middle eastern restaurants have spoiled me, or perhaps it was just chipotle that made me aware of how much food can really go into a burrito. The falafel in a lafah I got was mostly rolled lafah bread and very little in it. Very few falafels, I didn’t feel the hummus and very few vegetables that made very little impact. The meal costs nearly $10 and for that price I felt cheated. Taste: The overall taste is good – but not spectacular and yet I must give them credit that everything tasted very fresh. The Falafels were hot and fresh, the pita was fresh. The hummus didn’t make any impact and they need to work on it and find a way to give it a much stronger point of view.

Final words:

I want to love this place. I ‘d love for Melrose to have as many middle eastern restaurants as possible – it would be great and I’ll be their biggest fans. Maybe I’m totally wrong – but based on my experience – I don’t think their target audience can only be ultra orthodox Jews who might or might not show up because of their Kosher sign. I think they need to cater to everyone. Families, hipsters and the many young people walking Melrose that are looking for healthy and cheap food. In order to get the general public’s attention this restaurants need to come down to earth and start making cheaper food, in larger quantities that’s in a family price range or else they’ll end up closing like other middle eastern restaurants in that area that have come and gone. Like any other new restaurant on Melrose at the beginning there will be a honeymoon between the locals and this place – as everyone always want to try out the new restaurants on the street. But whomever owns this place needs to show that his vision is not just graphics that present a large corporate style middle eastern restaurant but also the vision of a large corporation – with a big vision and real care for the smallest details. I hope they succeed and will keep all of you posted!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Taeem on Melrose

A few people have been asking why I haven't updated the Hummus blog for awhile and sadly, I must admit it's not because I haven't eaten Hummus - it's because all the Hummus restaurants I've tried lately have been awful. Truly awful. A few have even cause me to feel sick afterwards.
More and more new restaurants are popping across Los Angeles and yet it seems that their owners don't really have any love or respect for Hummus.

A relatively new place on Melrose Ave, Los Angeles is a small hole in the wall Israeli place called TAEEM- which means tasty.
They have cheap Shawarma Buritto deals for about $6 for a chicken Shawarma which is sweet.
But this blog isn't about Shawarma it's about Hummus ( and sometimes Falafel) as well.
I've tried this place a few times and as much as I wanted to like it - I didn't.

Both the Falafel and the Hummus were extremely bland. The Falafel had a very generic taste and the Hummus didn't taste fresh.
Moreover, the garbage bins were filled beyond full and the restroom I entered was dirty and disgusting.
I know a Hummus guide shouldn't be criticizing the garbage and the toilets - but I think that it is all connected.

Hummus is a passion and to make great hummus one needs to have a lot of discipline to continue striving for the stars and get the recipe just right.
Same with running a business and part of that - especially with a food business is to make sure it is all clean.

I talked for a few minutes with the owner of the place. He is very likeable and so I did visit this place 3 times to make sure I didn't fall on them on a bad day.
I visited them both during different hours of the day with always the same results.
It's a pity. 
I really am rooting for this place. I liked it's vibe. I liked it's pricing. I liked it's location. I loved it's low key attitude. I even liked the owner.

It's a new place and it can succeed cause there are a lot of people that would love great hummus in this area.
But to make great hummus - they need to invest more passion into the fine details.
They need to clean their act- as well as the store and need to try out more to get a much better hummus.

That said, unlike the various places I've gone to lately - I didn't become sick afterwards from the Hummus. So with the benchmark being dropped so much - I guess that's one point in their favor.

I am rooting for this place. So I will revisit it in the future and hopefully it'll get it's act together. It has the potential for greatness. Now all it needs is the Hummus ( and the Falafel)!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Muma - Melrose Hummus

Melrose used to be a trendy place in Los Angeles until several years ago when the Grove shopping mall opened nearbye and sucked out the life out of this hipster's paradise.
Many of the hip and fun stores closed and the street started looking more like a ghost street.
Even the Hummus restaurant there like Wholesome Pita closed.

Now a new attempt is being made to open a new Hummus place with a twist and being a huge fan of Melrose I went to this place hoping that indeed they'll nail it.

The place is called Muma and the interior design and the way they serve shouts FRANCHISE. They are trying to do to Hummus what Pinkberry did to frozen yogurt.

Unlike many of the other Hummus restaurants which look like a cheap low class rundown diner- Muma has a cool and hip look which makes the tiny place feel much more spacious and fun.

They have fresh vegetables and salads that are made on premise and have interesting options for the Hummus.

The Hummus itself is good and interesting.

Their Falafel is fresh and made to order and their Pitas are also fresh.

The place is still brand new and caters to 3 different crowds:
Orthodox Jews living nearbye in La Brea/Melrose area
Israeli's working on Melrose
Vegeterians looking for a fun and tasty place in the Fairfax district.
Hipsters wanting a fast and clean meal on Melrose after shopping there.

One of the things that always dissapoints me with new places is how fast they surrender to mediocrity after the first few month's of existence.
This place is new and the two charming and charismatic owners are working there hard to make sure the food is fresh and tasty and hot for every customer.
The fans have noticed their hard work and the place is full most of the day.
I do hope they will stay this way and not give up their desire to make the best Hummus on Melrose.

Muma's is aiming directly for the Chipotle crowd. Those wanting a fast meal in a clean place that's both tasty, fast and hip but also will give them a full meal for under $10. Chipotle seem to have a lot of repeat customers that come there almost daily to eat cheaply.
Time will tell if the same concept will work for Mumma.

As they are located so close to the ultra Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of La Brea and Melrose they will hopefully attract some of the same crowd that used to go to Wholesome Pita. But in order to survive in the competitive Melrose Avenue they'll hopefully manage to get the hipsters to adopt this place to.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for this place.
It's inspiring to see young people try to bring new life into a traditional meal in such an exciting way and especially in LA which is such a hard town to bring anything new to.

I also hope they don't fall into the trap of a lot of middle eastern places that eventually try to hike up prices believing Israeli's, Jews and Arabs are suckers. They might be for awhile but eventually all places that had crazy prices for Hummus went under. Hummus and Falafel are the Pizza of the middle east and as such should be priced accordingly.
As their new competitor on Fairfax, Pita bar and Grill turned from a sweet darling to a disgusting, stale Pita serving, lousy Hummus making place in less than 6 month since they opened and also hiked up the price and so lost quite a few clients in the process - I truly hope this sweet new place doesn't look at the conduct of the current crop of middle eastern restaurants but rather at what it could become- the middle eastern Chipotle chain.

Good luck guys and may the force of chickpeas be with you.

Their info:
7275 Melrose Ave
LA CA 90046