Café Rakka: Heavenly Falafel

Where: Café Rakka Mediterranean Restaurant, 71A New Shackle Island Road, Hendersonville, TN  37075

GF Menu: No.

What I ate: My dining companion and I shared Hummus, Baba Ghanoush, Mediterranean Salad, Falafel, Pomegranate Iced Tea, and a Mango Lassi

How to order it: Everything is made in-house, from the hummus to the yogurt and cheese. All menu items are made-to-order. When you place your order at the counter, let the server know that you are dining Gluten-Free.

I asked whether their falafel mix (traditionally made of chickpeas or fava beans) contained any flour. The server double-checked with the chef and announced that it was Gluten-Free. Then he graciously offered cucumber slices instead of the pita bread that normally accompanies this dish.

At Café Rakka, falafel are fried in a container that is not shared with any other items.

What it looks like:

The Baba Ghanoush was incredibly light; and to my surprise, it was garnished with pomegranate seeds. Each bite was a little bit sweeter than the last.

After we placed our order, I heard our hummus being blended in the kitchen. It was that fresh. This magical mix contained chickpeas, the Cafe’s own special recipe tahini, and lemon juice, plus a drizzle of olive oil and a touch of colorful spices.

Posted on a signboard above the counter was a list of the different types of hummus you can try in a “Hummus Bar” sampler. Here are some of the flavors I noted that day: Roasted Eggplant, Roasted Jalapeños, Roasted Onions, Spiced Cilantro, Olives, Roasted Garlic, Roasted Almonds, Roasted Mushrooms.

I wish my blog could feature a “Scratch ‘n’ Sniff” button, because I would install one for you here next to this photo. These lightly-browned, crispy-looking spheres with their hypnotizing aroma beckoned me to dig in.

Café Rakka’s homemade falafel were soft and delicately moist inside, with a thin, crispy crust on the outside. These were the closest thing I have had in years to fresh-out-of-the-fryer hushpuppies! I had to remind myself they were Gluten-Free.

This Mediterranean Salad was all about the cheese. Gorgeous blocks of homemade feta were soft, moist, and flavorful. The “About Us” page on the Café Rakka website explains, “Chef Rakka’s family has been renowned cheese, butter and yogurt makers in Syria for more than five generations.” Practice has indeed made perfect.

Green Note: Chef Rakka and his wife, Linda, emphasize the importance of cooking what is fresh and in season. Their website describes their commitment to this philosophy:

[Chef Rakka's] cooking today continues to reflect that love of fresh food.  Just as he and his father, after a trip to the market in Syria, would bring home only what was fresh that day for his mother to cook, Rakka and his wife Linda decide on the daily menu specials based on what’s available fresh from the market. 

Cafe Rakka on Urbanspoon

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