Jump to content

Chickpeas, North Arlington - Closed.


Recommended Posts

Housed in the former headquarters of Wesley Clark's presidential campaign and until recently a palmistry establishment, Chickpeas is probably doomed.

This is a shame, as it certainly deserves a shot and it could be a welcome surprise for those who have traveled in the Middle East and have gotten a taste of things beyond the Lebanese and Persian staples.

For example, the desserts listed on the menu go beyond the usual baklava and helva with Um Ali (creme pudding with toasted butter beans on top), Balah al-Sham (fried date cookies), and Basbosa (semolina almond cakes) but unfortunately I didn't see them in the dessert case and you can't really whip these up in a hurry, so perhaps they'll be available in the future. The same goes for the vertical shawarma spits, which are empty at the moment.

I had the combo platter to get a feel for what they could do- the kofta (ground beef and seasonings) kabob was excellent, the chicken kabob was tender but underspiced, and the steak kabobs had some tough portions. Very good felafel here, fried to order and creamy on the inside. The hummus and salad were also quite good.

Chickpeas is reasonably cheap (the platters are almost all under $10 and that comes with a lot of food) and I think with some more outings I could find where they're solid, but as I was waiting in the booth for my order I began to grow sad- even if the rent is cheap enough that a psychic could pay it, there is no foot traffic on that part of Lee Hwy other than people going to the 7-11 next door. It's not that people who had a hankering for an eternally rolled taquito wouldn't mind a felafel now and then, I just worry that people are unlikely to go the distance to try this place when you could go to Me Jana or the new Turkish/Tunisian place or Tarbouch instead.

On the other hand, Tarbouch isn't really convenient to anyone and there's a party going on there every night for the narguilah. I've seen lots of families eating there, so perhaps they would like to escape the "let's seduce our Eastern European waitress" vibe there and head up the street. Or perhaps Chickpeas can open up the alley behind the 7-11 for narguilah as well, which would be oddly authentic.

If they can concentrate on what makes them different (more Egyptian and Syrian dishes) and maybe trim some of the odder ideas (buffalo wings, "Texas Po Boy Sandwich") it's possible that Chickpeas could go beyond a spot for an extremely small neighborhood. It's also possible that it was so dead when I went because Ramadan had just started. Either way, I wish them the best and hope you can give them a shot in a tough economy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I did a serious double take when I saw Chickpeas sign go up. I used to drink cheap beer by the pitcher and scarf down mediocre, but comfort type, food there. I cannot remember the name of the old place that used to be there.

I am definitely going to stop by and work my way through some of their menu. Got a lebanese friend I will probably drag along as well, it helps to have someone along that knows the cuisine.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is a shame, as it certainly deserves a shot and it could be a welcome surprise for those who have traveled in the Middle East and have gotten a taste of things beyond the Lebanese and Persian staples.

On a related note, I stumbled upon an Egyptian-owned restaurant just yesterday in Burke: Old Cairo Grill. There's obviously a huge overlap in Middle Eastern cuisine, but this is the only place I can remember seeing koshari, which the owner told me is decidedly Egyptian. (I didn't try any food; I was thirsty and refused to patronize Burger King, so this place got my three bucks and my mitzvah for the afternoon.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not sure if anyone is concerned but Chickpeas closed about a month ago. It's a shame, I never like to see a small private owned business like this close, but could never bring myself to try it given the menu. Always smacked of a suburban version of the white carton Chinese joints in DC that serve Chinese food, subs, seafood, and (fill in the blank). I wish more of these types of restaurants would just focus on making one kind of food WELL rather than trying to please everyone in their offerings. I don't think I've ever seen a case where this has actually worked out and the restaurant is able to pull off multiple cuisines.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not sure if anyone is concerned but Chickpeas closed about a month ago. It's a shame, I never like to see a small private owned business like this close, but could never bring myself to try it given the menu.

I'm concerned, and to some degree, I blame myself for never having given it a fair shake. Like you, I could never quite risk an entire meal (and subsequent write-up), but had I known ... sigh.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not sure if anyone is concerned but Chickpeas closed about a month ago. It's a shame, I never like to see a small private owned business like this close, but could never bring myself to try it given the menu. Always smacked of a suburban version of the white carton Chinese joints in DC that serve Chinese food, subs, seafood, and (fill in the blank). I wish more of these types of restaurants would just focus on making one kind of food WELL rather than trying to please everyone in their offerings. I don't think I've ever seen a case where this has actually worked out and the restaurant is able to pull off multiple cuisines.

I felt bad about it too - I went by there a billion times (that is an overstatement perhaps) without stopping, even going into that 7-11.

But it was just kind of "oh yeah, whatever".

Oh, well. Maybe next time I see the little place that I could visit I'll actually do so instead of putting it off repeatedly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...