Double Apple — Roanoke
You know how I always complain about the falafel situation in Roanoke? How I really just want a street food falafel, nothing fancy, and I’ve yet to find a restaurant here that meets the criteria? Well, I think I found it.
A few weeks ago, G & I were deciding where to go for dinner and we were in the mood for Mediterranean or Middle Eastern food. Isaac’s, the Mediterranean restaurant in Grandin that I’ve eaten at more times than I can count but somehow never reviewed, recently closed, so we were at a loss. Was there any Mediterranean food left in Roanoke? Then we remembered—Double Apple, that hookah bar out in Roanoke County, they served food, right?
We went with low expectations—I hadn’t heard anything either positive or negative about the restaurant in the year that it had been open—expecting to find just “ok” food, but nothing special. But as so often happens when you don’t expect much, we were overwhelmed with how good the food was: simple, but good—exactly what I’m looking for in a Mediterranean restaurant.
The restaurant space is a little odd—Double Apple is housed in an old family restaurant and feels dated with forest green vinyl seats and diner tables, wood paneling, fluorescent lighting, but I can understand the lack of spatial editing for a young, not flush restaurant. I can only hope that if the owners do succeed, that they update the tables and chairs and find a way to let in more natural light. It would do wonders for the ambiance. The service both times I’ve eaten there has been impeccable, though—friendly, fast, and quick to ask the kitchen any questions I had.
Our food, however, was a total home run. When I went with G, we started with the hummus sampler—roasted red pepper, roasted garlic, and olive. It was obvious that the hummus was made in-house and I loved the creamy smoothness of it: loaded with olive oil and plenty of the mix-in. The roasted red pepper hummus was bright and slightly tart, the garlic mellow, and the olive hummus full of minced olives. I found the quick-pickled carrot and beet garnishes to be a great addition as well as the lettuce the hummus was nested in. Nothing grates on me more than inedible or not-tasty garnishes. Double Apple definitely has something going on with the pickles.
For my main dish I, of course, ordered the falafel plate. A simple pita wrapped around fried falafel, diced tomatoes, lettuce, and served with tahini, it hit the spot. Was it simple, yup. Was it incredible tasty, definitely. (Could have done without the fries though…frozen fries are a crappy excuse for a side dish.) The falafels were freshly fried and hot and were packed into the pita—I think the bread managed to cradle five or six falafels in addition to the tomato and lettuce which was more than I’ve been served most places. More falafels = more love.
G ordered the Chicken Biryani, a special run only on weekends, I think. The server highly recommended it and it was a truly incredible dish. The rice and chicken were seasoned well, but I was most impressed with the assorted olives and preserved lemon that studded the dish. Since when has preserved lemon been in the consciousness of Roanoke? Holy cow, this place is legit! The tzatziki served on the side was rich with chunks of cucumbers and tomatoes—a different style than I’ve seen here before and one that, even with my general dislike of cucumbers, I’d love to eat again and again. It felt like there was some heart put into the dish; I respect that.
I also visited a week or so later for lunch with my office (I work for a small firm so we can do those kinds of things) and ordered the Vegetable Shawarma —a pita full of roasted mushrooms and red peppers and squash (with lettuce and tomato and hummus and tahini sauce). For the side, I found that they do serve pita fries—fried pita slices—so I subbed the French fries for pita fries and was a little happier. (Next time I go, I’m getting a side salad for sure.) The shawarma was full of lots of vegetable goodness and was a great vegetarian/vegan option as opposed to the regular shawarma (which my co-worker loved).
While I’ve only been twice so far, I’m hoping to make it back again soon—Double Apple really pulls out the stops on their food. It’s not three star cuisine, but it’s soulful and full of flavor, in addition to being mostly well executed. My one complaint is that they don’t serve any harissa. As a lover of some heat with my falafel or shawarma, I would have killed for that extra peppery kick (next time I might be that person and bring my own….I know, I know…), and I found it strange that, for a restaurant that makes so much in-house and is so authentic, that there wouldn’t be an option of that condiment. So, folks of Double Apple, if you’re reading this, can you please make up some harissa? It’d make my day!
Price-point and service and food-wise, you can’t beat Double Apple if you’re in the mood for Mediterranean/Middle Eastern food. I even know they have a hookah bar upstairs if that’s your sort of thing. As for me, I think I’ll stick to the falafel and, if they get their ABC license, a glass of the region-specific wine they’re hoping to have on premises.
3604 Brambleton Ave
Roanoke, VA 24018