MFG (My Former Girlfriend) wanted to see WaterFire. Basically, it’s a bunch of urns with wood set aflame inside along the water in the middle of Providence, Rhode Island. After traipsing up and down, we needed a bite to eat.
Nearby the downtown area is Brown University. Near Brown University are a bunch of bars (as is usually the norm in any college town). Nearby the bars are places to eat, in particular, cheap food that can be served up quickly to inebriated college students. One of these places is East Side Pockets.
They bill themselves as “The Home of Middle Eastern & Vegetarian Food”. Perfect for a college audience. There isn’t a huge waiting area, but the folks at East Side have staffed themselves very well for quick turnaround. A couple people are available to take your order. They also do some assembly. There are one or two guys working the grill and then one or two more preparing the bags to go and working the register. Even though there was a decent line when MFG and I arrived, it moved very quickly.
We started off with their Falafel appetizer ($4.17). Though listed in the appetizer section, these Falafel are huge! Six enormous Falafel with “yogurt cucumber sauce” and hummus. I would call the stuff under the Falafel “pita”, but the menu says “Syrian bread”. They can call it whatever they like, it was fresh, hot, and delicious. This appetizer is a meal unto itself. Order to share, or just have it with a soup. It is plenty.
The Falafel is tasty, but not exemplary. The flavor is not bad, but it is just a little dull. They are very well prepared with a crunchy exterior and a meaty but tender inside. As I said before, the portion is more than generous. The cucumber sauce helps. The hummus was the standout of this dish. It was very creamy and bright. There was a little zing from some lemon. It was not a bad dish, but don’t order it if you are looking for a flavor explosion.
MFG got a Middle Eastern Salad. Take a salad, add some Grape Leaves, Falafel, Hummus on the side, and you’ve got the Middle Eastern Salad. The Grape Leaves were very tasty, a little vinegar bite and a tasty interior. MFG gave the salad a thumbs up.
Since it was an especially cold out, Chicken Soup ($3.93) was in order. This is a fair dish. Nothing special, but it was hot and fresh.
Not knowing that the Falafel appetizer would be so huge, I also got a Gyro Pocket ($6.71). Once again, a good offering, but the gyro meat was not the flavor bomb I was hoping to experience.
My review of East Side Pockets may seem underwhelming, but it is not a thumbs-down. The food is fresh, quickly prepared, and very reasonably priced. On the other hand, it is not someplace that is going to haunt my dreams. I have come to expect more bold tastes from Middle Eastern food. While this restaurant was tasty, it was not exciting.
East Side Pockets
278 Thayer Street
Providence, RI 02906