The newly opened Hummus Bar on Washington Street is a welcome addition to a neighborhood that loves its pizza and celebrates its bakeries with a zealot's enthusiasm.
Open for not quite two weeks, Hummus Bar offers something a little different: tasty Mediterranean options with an emphasis on heath. The walls are decorated with facts about the nutritional benefits of the menu items' ingredients, such as "Chickpeas contain iron and manganese which are essential for healthy blood and high energy," and also, "Hummus is high in iron and vitamins C, E, K, B6 and also rich in calcium, magnesium and zinc."
The folks behind Hummus Bar seem not only interested in touting its cuisine's robust properties, but also in honoring the food's ingredients, themselves. The tables, for instance, have glass tops that encase dried chickpeas and lentils, so the patron is literally eating on a table made of the food he or she is eating. Also of note in the decor department: there are really cool light fixtures made of various cutlery.
This is all well and nice, but what about the food?
It's very, very good.
I started with the Lentil Soup ($4.95) which Hummus Bar makes homemade with yellow lentils, onion and various seasonings. The soup arrived piping hot and had a thick, hearty consistency. It was my favorite item that I sampled.
Next up was the Mediterranean Hummus Platter ($8.95) which is a vegetarian option, that is comprised of hummus, marinated eggplant, hard-boiled egg, tahini and chopped parsley. It came with a side of pita bread and pickles. I added on falafel (four balls for $1.95).
The highlights of this dish were definitely the falafel balls and the hummus. The falafel was perfectly cooked: crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside with a delicious garlic flavor. The hummus was thick and substantial. The eggplant was a sweet-to-taste centerpiece, marinated in lemon, olive oil and salt. The only thing about this segment of the meal I wasn't thrilled with was the pita bread. It didn't strike me as particularly fresh and was a bit on the dry/tough side.
Finally, I sampled some to some to die for baklava ($3.95). They keep the baklava cold in the soda fridge and this really added to the richness and sweetness of the dessert for me, not unlike the phenomenon of how eating a cold or frozen candy bar is generally better than eating it at room temperature.
Hummus Bar is co-owned by Nevo Katzav, who used to manage a pizza restaurant (of all things!) and Rafael Cohen, who owns a Middle Eastern restaurant in Tenefly called Hamsa.
Katzav, who is a recent Hoboken transplant, feels that his background in fast food combined with Cohen's experience with Middle Eastern cuisine is a recipe for success.
"We've only been open for 10 days," Katsav commented. "But people have been waiting, and we have been very busy so far. We offer a different kind of food than most other places around here, and I think that will help us."
I would have to agree. Hummus Bar is a great place to get a healthy, nutritionally-packed (and very tasty) meal for a great price in a welcoming and friendly environment.
And it's cold outside: Don't forget the lentil soup.