If you are looking for delicious sharing-style food, a great vibe and good service then Bala Baya is the answer!
Bala Baya came onto my radar through the Sheerluxe.com emails I get each day (subscribe if you are a girl in London, lovely delivery to break up your work emails very midday). It continues the Israeli food trend that is creeping into London through restaurants like Ottolenghi – in fact Bala Baya’s head chef Eran Tibi was part of the Ottolenghi family previously.
Bala Baya is tucked away under a railway archway in Southwark in an area that seems to be up and coming. Walking inside the place is buzzing, even on week nights. The interior has a very “sex in the city” vibe with exposed bricks, counters overlooking the exposed kitchen and a loft type second floor.
We settled in with a briefing from the extremely helpful waiter – he took us through the menu explaining his favorites and recommendations, all which sounded amazing. Though he was a little too helpful trying to convince one of us to order a drink by listing very possible option (and coming back again) despite us clearly saying no.
We started our food adventure with complimentary hummus and delightfully warm pita before journeying on to a mixture of the small plates.
This is where the taste explosion hits! We shared 5 plates between 3 people (as we weren’t massively hungry) but in reality we could have happily eaten through the whole menu. Every dish had such unique and mouth watering flavours. Perfect twists on old favourites like the sticky orange sweetness of the crispy chicken or saffron and butternut jam of the calamari. As I type I sit with a big smile reminiscing how great every dish was.
So what did we order:
- Stuffed Peppers – Smoked freekeh, sour cherries, citrus yogurt
- Cauliflower – Crumble, syrup, yogurt
- Crispy, Sticky, Crunchy – Chicken, bitter orange, harissa, butternut squash, kimchi
- Lamb & Dumplings – Lamb neck, quince, Persian dumplings, young pecorino, jus
- Calamari & Jam – Crispy calamari, saffron & butternut jam, lime aioli
I would absolutely recommend them all. The plates were £9-12 and were pretty generously served excepted the Lamb & Dumplings (nice but our least favorite), great to share between us three!
I would highly recommend Bala Baya and you can book which is ideal. The only critique was that we seemed to have a large wait in between dishes to the point we started getting a bit hangry….
Also while you are in the area I would also schedule a trip to Union Street Cafe cocktail bar before or after. Cocktail bars seem to be dime a dozen in London but this place has mastered it to perfection