Fast casual is so hot right now. Case in point? The numerous Michelin starred chefs jumping on the bandwagon with new chain concepts. Somewhere between an elevated street cart and a full-service restaurant, Mirage Kitchen has entered the fray by bringing healthy and affordable Middle Eastern cuisine to the West Village.
As overused as the term has become, Chipotle-esque is the best way to describe the system and service at Mirage. Diners can order a wrap, bowl, or salad bowl with the signature chicken, falafel or “The Works” – spiced lamb and beef – and customize it with a variety of sauces and spreads.
For all of its emphasis on spice, Mirage Kitchen could use a few lessons in the art of seasoning. Though both meats are well cooked, the flavor and tenderness make the lamb and beef combo the way to go.
The wraps ($7.95) are a safe choice for those on the go, but the bowls offer a much better value. At $10.50, the salad bowl is the most expensive item on the menu, but with mixed greens, a protein (or falafel) and a scoop of hummus, labneh and mahamra – a spread made from ground walnuts and red pepper – it is worth the price of admission.
Though they were a hit with Eater critic Robert Sietsema, the chickpea fries ($3.50) fell short of our high expectations. They might be healthier than French fries, but that benefit is lost in their lack of flavor and crunch. A much better option is the popcorn falafel ($4.50), mini spiced falafel served with an addictive, slightly tangy lemon tahini dipping sauce.
Despite its shortcomings, Mirage Kitchen is a nice addition to a neighborhood that is not known for its affordable dining options. The quality offerings and reasonable prices make it a solid option for a healthy and affordable meal before or after class.