By Kate Fuell
Photos by Melanie Wang
Neighborhood: Hyde Park
Dishes to Try: Dill, Yogurt, and Cucumber Sauce Rice Bowl
Squeezed in right next to Chipotle on 53rd, Roti, the new Mediterranean restaurant, is quite comparable to its neighbor. In a similar pick-and-choose, create your own fashion, Roti offers simple yet colorful options for a light meal.
The new Hyde Park addition is brand new - slate grey walls and wicker light fixtures help to set the mood. With impeccably quick service, crowded café style seating, and a bus your own table atmosphere, it is very much quality fast food.
With base options of salad, rice, and pita/wraps, the possibilities for constructing a meal are quite varied. In an attempt to construct myself a falafel sandwich, I opted for the laffa wrap, a modern take on the classic Mediterranean sandwich. After picking the base, the next step was to pick the “protein,” with chicken, lamb, salmon and various shawarma meat options. The chicken roti was nicely marinated in a tangy sauce. After choosing both the base and the protein, the toppings were a free for all, spanning from freshly roasted vegetables to couscous.
The most exciting option, however, were the sauces. Under the recommendation of a helpful employee, we tried the dill, yogurt and cucumber sauce as well as the roasted red pepper spread. With the perfect consistency, and the perfect amount of flavor, the sauces upgraded the meal instantly.
In my wrap, I choose the dill, yogurt and cucumber sauce paired with falafel, hummus, feta, cilantro, chicken roti and a tomato, cucumber mix. The sauce paired nicely with the tomato and cucumber providing a flavor that awakened my taste buds.
The most disappointing thing, however, were the falafel balls. The fried vegetarian fritters were lacking in both consistency and crunch. Instead of the crispy falafel you expect from a Mediterranean restaurant, the falafel not only lacked flavor, but also unfortunately had whole chick-peas, and melted into the background of my wrap.
Luckily, the rice bowl was another great option. The fresh vegetables provided both great flavor and great color to the meal, as well as the couscous. The hummus serving was larger than expected, and accidentally downplayed the other flavors of the bowl.
Compared to other chain Mediterranean restaurants, such as Naf Naf Grill and I Dream of Falafel, Roti provides a more well-rounded experience. With a larger and healthier variety of both toppings and base dishes, Roti allows for a more eclectic, though less authentic, Mediterranean experience.
For a nice cheap meal on a Saturday night, Roti provides a nice option for those sick of ordering Thai 55. With a large variety of options, Roti will satisfy those salty Mediterranean cravings with suitable speed and student friendly prices.