One of the things that I love about Hertel Avenue these days is the ever-increasing diversity when it comes to ethnic cuisine. Whenever a new café or bakery or restaurant opens I'm usually just a few minutes behind, looking to try out the offerings in hopes to find new culinary discoveries or variations in traditional offerings.
I knew that when I saw Manakeesh & More opening that they would have their own twists when it comes to Middle Eastern Cuisine. I always look to learn a couple of new traditions along the way. For example, when I asked for a cup of coffee, the gentleman behind the counter asked if I wanted American coffee. I answered that I would like to try the traditional coffee, and then he pondered whether I wanted that "now"? That's when I remembered that the style of coffee that he was referring to was intended to be enjoyed after a meal, as a form of relaxation during conversation. So I changed my mind and ordered an American cup of coffee. It was not an awkward conversation, it was more the two of us reaching a point of common ground, and getting to the main reason that I was there... the food.
Today I was in the mood for the hummus plate and a falafel sandwich (wrap). I was told that the bread was all made in-house, which made me the decision even easier (even though I was very intrigued by the Halal pizza (create your own). The stuffed pie dough also sounded incredible. Since it was my first time at Manakeesh I decided to order the items that I was familiar with, so as to compare them to some other favorite places that I frequent. I'm happy to say that today I had the best falafel sandwich that I had ever had in my life - the falafel was prepared fresh to oder. I even witness the production as the falafel was fed through the hand grinder back in the kitchen. Once I had my bounty in front of me, I dipped the wrap into the hummus for the medley of tastes, not due to it being dry - the falafel was moist and flavorful, which is not always the standard. The olives were fresh, the olive oil was clean and bright, the bread was fresh and warm... I was in heaven.
Without asking for it, General Manager Sami Amin brought out a lentil soup for me to try, which really hit the spot. He then followed that up with some sort of Middle Eastern dessert that resembled baklava - it melted in my mouth and rounded out the meal with its sweetness and unusual texture. When was the last time a restaurant manager ever brought out items for a customer to try [smiling and watching my reaction as I readily accepted]? Even after I broke a plate on the floor, I was handed the dessert and told, "What you don't know is that is good luck!"
Good luck indeed... I'm happy to have an eatery in North Buffalo that is family owned and operated, with homemade food, friendly service, where I can break all the plates I want - just my luck!
1150 Hertel Avenue
Buffalo NY 14216