Slow Food: Review of Moustache, East Village
BY HOLLY HAGAN
Despite the inattentive service and being named after a piece of facial hair I abhor, I can’t stop going back to Moustache, a Middle Eastern restaurant with three locations in Manhattan.
I always end up at the East Village location because it’s close to my office. Recently, I met my friend there at 7pm on a Friday and got a seat right away at a rickety tippy table on the back patio. The table, chairs and flattened pillows look like products of dumpster diving. The only other customers there were part of a large, needy party. The flustered and sweaty server avoided eye contact with me for fifteen minutes until my friend got there.
When the server finally came over, I noticed the new uniforms-a gray t-shirt with the Moustache logo on the front. Abruptly, he informed us that we should order all of our entrées and appetizers at the same time, and if we wanted more than one glass, we should order a bottle.
“I don’t know if I’ll have time to come back.”
Thankfully, we not only knew what we wanted, but we’d already planned on a bottle. We weren’t first time customers.
When the waiter turned around, I noticed the slogan on the back of his shirt: “Slow Food.”
It’s not the food that’s slow. The hummus came out not long after, smooth whipped and garnished with diced tomato, chickpeas and a pool of olive oil in the center. The pitas were ballooned with steam, which made for an arresting presentation, but were too hot to handle.
As we ripped into the steaming pita, Moustache filled. The wait staff seemed shocked and unprepared for customers. Because of this, I knew it would be awhile for the entrées to come out of the kitchen. No worries, though. I had nowhere to be, the sun was setting, I had a glass of wine, and I lived in the greatest city in the world. Because I hadn’t eaten much since lunch, the wine was going to my head.
The food arrived, and our server’s “Slow Food” shirt was stained with food and sweat. My friend and I ordered the same dish: the chicken kebab plate. The plate consists of a generous helping of pureed lentil, and six to seven cubes of grilled chicken with cilantro and garlic arranged in a circle around a roasted tomato.
By the time we were ready for the check, the dining room had cleared out and our server leaned against the bar, his back to us, and sipped Turkish coffee out of an espresso cup. He looked a mess, and I felt bad for bothering him, but it had been a long week for me, as well. As soon as he noticed us, he brought the check and a sticky sweet piece of baklava with two forks.
Even though the t-shirts set the expectation for service, the food more than makes up for it.