As the relentless rain on a recent Thursday stopped over lunchtime, it was the perfect opportunity to head to a new opening on Old Market Street.
Toot and Come In offers Egyptian and Middle Eastern cuisine and, despite the weather, was serving a steady stream of customers. Two friends sat by the window while a tradesman waited by the counter for his order.
It’s refreshing to see more African cuisine come to the city, and the proposition of koshari, falafel or moussaka was very welcome on a showery midweek day.
The aim of ordering a favourite dish, moussaka, is quickly scuppered, however. The anticipation of warm vegetable stew is halted when the server says, flatly: “It’s not ready.”
It turns out that the only food available is falafel in a pitta and a side of chips. A little disappointed, a falafel pitta (£4.50) is ordered.
The skies outside turn grey and the phrase ‘pathetic fallacy’ springs to mind. Waiting for the pitta bread, the friends sat by the window order a side of baba ganoush to go with their falafel, only to discover that this is also unavailable. They instead order the only sides available, chips.
Another few minutes go by, and a large wrap and plate of steaming falafels are brought out from the kitchen, but it transpires that this is the order of the previous customer, the tradesman. As the clock ticks by, some more falafel and another wrap appear from the kitchen. The server smooths homemade hummus over the bread and adds six falafel and asks which salad should be added.
Wanting to try everything they can offer, shredded carrot, beetroot, lettuce, tomato and cucumber is piled on top of one another. Then, some fluffy cous cous, pickled cabbage, green chillis, some tahini and spicy sauce, topped with pickles. It’s a feast, and well worth the £4.50 price tag.
As the first spots of rain hit the pavement outside, it’s the perfect time to take the take-out wrap (seating is very limited) back to the office. It turns out, however, that it needs to be heated on the sandwich grill.
As the shower turns to pouring rain, the wrap is ready after waiting for nearly 15 minutes. Spotting a spare seat in the restaurant, the eating experience can finally begin.
The wrap is over a foot long and toasted until piping hot. The somewhat stodgy falafel, cous cous and hummus combination that sticks to the top of the mouth is rescued by the pickled cabbage and green chillis that add a kick of spice.
The lettuce, tomato and cucumber adds freshness to the wrap, but the mountain of salad can’t save the wrap from the bland falafel/cous cous/hummus that, unfortunately, overpowers the whole meal.
It’s a challenge to finish the wrap, each mouthful harder to swallow than the last. The hummus and falafel would be nice as a side, but inside the already huge, starchy wrap. The carb-fest feels worthy of a Food Challenge, so although worth the price, it’s an unpleasant experience to try and finish the meal.
The rain continues outside and it seems that pathetic fallacy was the correct term after all. Promising so much, Toot and Come In offers a range of exciting, homemade cuisine. However, it ultimately fails to deliver, with a very limited range of the menu available, and the food that is on offer, to put it simply, just isn’t very nice.
Toot and Come In, 42 Old Market Street, Bristol, BS2 0BZ
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