Garbanzo Grill: Casual Mediterranian From 'Narnia'

If you prefer your falafel in a casual setting, you can now have it at Evergreen Walk.

The new Garbazno Mediterranean Grill has opened its doors across from Moe's Southwest Grill in the South Windsor shopping center. Garbanzo works under the same idea as the popular burrito chain: Build your way through your meal and enjoy it in the small casual dining room or take it to go.

The dining room has booths and tables, the walls are painted orange and green, and one wall is painted with with raw garbanzo beans.

We were greeted by several friendly employees behind the counter as they caught us staring up at the menu baffled by our first Garbanzo experience.

"Want to go to Narnia?" one of them asked. We looked at them slighly confused, until they followed up with "because our falafel will take you there."

We were each handed a falafel to sample, and indeed we got lost in the deliciousness for just a moment. The small falafel balls were crisp on the outside and smooth on the inside and served at the perfect temperature to avoid that lava-center tongue burn.

The staff helped us navigate the menu (which lets you choose from kabobs, gyros, pitas and plates), explaining the difference of each along with their favorites. Step one: choose your entrée. Step two: your meat (chicken, steak or falafel). Step three: Go to town on your choice of toppings and sauces.

I went with the steak kabob, which came with seasoned peppers on a skewer (warmed up on the skillet top). It came with a large warm pita, choice of white or wheat, and was served on a bed of hummus, rice and a vegetable salad for $10.69. After our initial delicious trip to Narnia, we caved and got the side of five falafel for $3.

My friend ordered the plate, a customized way to sample many of the Mediterranean options. The mound of steak, tabouli, hummus and salad, which seemed impossible to finish at first glance, was $8.79. She also added a side of dolmas (stuffed grape leaves) for $2.39. Drinks include flavored lemonades, iced teas and fountain soda.

We carried our trays to a nearby table: You could hardly see the tray we had piled on so much food.

There was a good charred flavor to the vegetables and they were rich in color. The steak was well seasoned, but we both agreed it was a little overcooked. The pita was a great size, allowing us to break it up and sample the different sauce flavors or to build mini wraps with our different ingredients. The tzatziki sauce had a stronger dill flavor than usual but complemented the meat well, and the tabouli seemed to be toned down (not too citrusy).

Our quick, satisying meal with plenty of leftovers came to $31.52, and we had some time to spare on our lunch hour for some shopping.

Garbanzo Grill, 500 Evergreen Way, South Windsor, is open Monday to  Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Information: 860-644-0100 and www.eatgarbanzo.com.