Can you conceive and open a restaurant in Center City Philadelphia under the radar?
Michael Solomonov and Steve Cook have pulled it off.
About two months after they and their Federal Donuts partners opened Rooster Soup Co. downstairs at 1526 Sansom St., over the weekend they rolled out Goldie, an Israeli-style falafel shop upstairs, serving three core menu items made to order: falafel, french fries, and tehina shakes.
The 20-seat Goldie – as a diminutive of “gold” (the translation of Zahav, their Israeli restaurant) – has cafe tables and a stand-up counter. It offers dine-in and takeout daily from 11 a.m. till the final pita is sold. (In the first two days, it closed shortly after 2 p.m.)
Cook said he and Solomonov, who also have the hummus-centric Dizengoff a block away, have been toying around with a falafel restaurant since Zahav’s 2008 opening. As at Diz, the idea is to focus on one dish to make it the best.
They were inspired by the falafel shop Falafel Devorah in Karkur, just outside of Hadera. Goldie’s falafel - made in a robot - combines ground chickpeas, aromatics, herbs, and a spice blend (cumin, onion, parsley, and cilantro) created by Lior Sercarz of La Boite spice shop in New York City.
Veteran CookNSolo chef Caitlin McMillan’s menu includes the falafel sandwich on a Dizengoff-baked pita ($7) with tehina, chopped salad, and cabbage and topped to order with amba, harissa, or schug condiments; a falafel salad ($9); fries ($3) with spices including “shawarma” spice, Shabazi spice from La Boite, and za’atar; and tehina shakes ($4) - vegan milkshakes that combine a base of tehina (ground sesame seeds) with flavorings like turkish coffee with halva, chocolate with Israeli Kedem tea biscuit, and coconut with rose. Sour cherry iced tea and jarritos are among the drinks.
Besides Goldie, Zahav, Dizengoffs here and in New York, and stakes in Rooster Soup Co. and Federal Donuts, Solomonov and Cook own Abe Fisher.
Photo: Michael Persico.
Here is a video look, just before the opening