A recent poll suggested 5.7% of the population are vegetarians: that equates to over 3 million people. Often they are badly catered for if they are looking for food that is healthy, informal, fast and vegetarian. Thankfully the increasing number of branches from Pilpel is changing that fact for Londoners. I went along to their branch in St Paul’s to discover the legend that is Pilpel.
Pilpel means ‘chilli pepper’ and that is the nickname the owner Uri Dinay’s grandfather gave to him because he thought there was fire in his spirit. Clearly that’s the case with 5 Pilpel outlets so far in the city of London; the latest being their Aldgate branch. They have clearly targeted busy areas of the city where there are plenty of office workers who would warm to the Pilpel concept.
The decor at their St Paul’s branch is filled with warm light-coloured wood and filament light bulbs. They are proud of their story and origin explaining to the diners the influence from Uri’s grandfather who ran a food market stall in Tel Aviv. In fact, the hugely successful falafel recipe was created by Uri’s grandfather over 60 years ago.
What makes these delicious morsels of tasty goodness so desirable? A lot of rivals would pack their falafels with flour to make the dish more filling, but Pilpel uses 100% chickpeas, fresh herbs and exotic spices. It is crispy and crunchy on the outside whilst the inside is moist, fluffy and filled with flavours. Pilpel makes small batches at regular intervals to ensure you always get the freshest falafel possible.
It is simply organised in which you choose your base first, then the salads and finally the toppings. If you are indecisive, then they have popular suggestions for you to choose from: we tried the falafel with guacamole and falafel with aubergine. It is served in a pita bread or just a container if you are cautious about your carbohydrate intake.
There is more to Pilpel than just falafels, other popular offerings include their houmous options and ‘sabich’ which is a Sephardi sandwich consisting of houmous, aubergine, hard-boiled egg and your choice of salads.
They have neatly arranged fridge counters that offers everything from organic juices, coconut water to craft beers. What I would recommend trying are their finely made home-made baklava. Surely you should be allowed a box of petite treats after eating a healthy meal of falafel or houmous.