Some folks might remember the Rectangles which existed until a few years ago on East 10th Street, across from the Second Avenue Deli. Not a bad place, full of lively Israelis, full of smoke, and a good place to get a fix of genuine falafel or shuwarma when there weren't many alternatives.
A new incarnation of Rectangles opened on First Avenue and 74th Street recently. I really wanted to like it. I was hoping that this might be my nearby go-to place. But it won't be, I'm sorry to say.
Appetizers were quite good. The Israeli salad was fresh, but lacked acidity, which is odd. Maybe they dumbed it down for the uptown crowd; I don't know. But we had to squirt juice from lemon slices and then it was fine. A large combination plate of humus, tabouli, falafel, more Israeli salad and two types of eggplant, not baba ganoush, but (i) cubes of baked eggplant in a garlic and tomato sauce, and (ii) marinated eggplant with cilantro and lemon, were all fresh and excellent. Plentiful for two or three people, and very fair for $13. The pita bread was thick and warm and tasted like it was made in-house, but isn't (we asked).
But the entrees were lackluster. Chicken kabobs were moist and tasted fine, but at $15 were sparse. Side dishes appeared to be hasty afterthoughts, like a small cup of canned peas in a thin tomato sauce. On a given night you may get chicken or turkey shuwarma; chicken tonight. Not bad, not great, but a small pile with two lame sides comes in at $15 and it's just not worth it. A few blocks away at Turquoise, a no better and no worse plate of schuwarma is what, $8? Sure, at Turquoise you eat standing up or on a stool, while at Rectangles the pretty young Israeli girls seat you, but the food at Rectangles does not justify its pricing level.