EAST by The Rocketman Winthrop Arcade Oliver Plunkett St, Cork City facebook.com/ east by the rocket man
At the Oliver Plunkett side of Cork’s Winthrop Arcade you’ll find EAST, a falafel project brought to you by plant-focused local food heroes The Rocketman. Jack Crotty runs The Rocketman with his mum Simone, and the pair were approached by Winthrop Arcade’s most recent landlord Stephen Dalton.
EAST opened for business in December 2015. It’s a small space with just about enough room for a coffee machine, a counter of fresh fillings and a saj, an oven which the EAST team use to cook their flatbread wraps every day.
I order through a takeaway window and am drawn towards The Greek (¤7), a falafel wrap filled with EAST’s signature falafel plus black olives, feta cheese and zhoug, which Crotty describes as a Middle Eastern pesto. It’s messy but rewarding work to chow down on this delicious parcel of freshness, and I make a right mess of one of the little tables that line the hall of the Arcade, while I sip a Synerchi Kombucha (¤2.70), brewed in Donegal.
There are four other choices of falafel sandwiches. The Original features hummus, zhoug and tahini, the Mexican adds guacamole and salsa to the mix, the Italian offers up mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes and pesto, while the Canadian features beetroot crush, sweet potato fires, pickled beets and tahini. EAST have nailed their falafel recipe, and they’re exquisitely moist on the inside yet crispy on the outside. They make up their mix, but they roll and fry them to order, meaning they’re as fresh as you can get.
Aside from the falafel, there are delicious gluten-free sweet treats from local Free Birds Bakery on offer, including a devilishly good peanut butter brownie (¤3). There are two types of coffee from two exemplary local roasters on offer – a Brazilian bean from Golden Bean and an Ethiopian bean from Badger & Dodo, offering a caramel-flavoured coffee (the perfect accompaniment to my brownie - ¤2.50 for a flat white) or a more acidic, fruity coffee.
What makes simple street food like a falafel sandwich special is that it’s always the sum of its parts. At EAST, not only are the falafels great, but the bread is floury and fresh, and the fillings are crunchy and interesting. AMcE