I mentioned in a previous post that Mr S is rather mystified by the concept of brunch and he doesn’t quite ‘get’ it. Personally, I think is it even the weekend if you don’t have brunch accompanied by cocktails? Anyway after loving Timmy Green, he’s starting to fall in love with breakfast / lunch hybrid so I’d definitely call that a win! But when I was invited to try the new bottomless brunch at Israeli restaurant, Bala Baya I knew it was a great opportunity to initiate him further into the world of weekend brunch.
With close relatives living in Tel Aviv we’ve visited Israel several times and absolutely love the food there but the London food scene has only just cottoned on to how great it is. With restaurants such as The Palomar and The Barbary already being celebrated, Bala Baya is the latest on the scene. Located underneath the arches on Union Street with gorgeous exposed brick work, an open kitchen downstairs and a light-filled mezzanine upstairs, there’s plenty of energy in this buzzing casual restaurant.
The menu itself is chef Eran Tibi’s love letter to Tel Aviv with a list of dishes inspired by his home land. As we read the menu, we could hear the comforting clatter of trains rumbling across the rail ways outside and the happy sound of a busy restaurant at the weekend.
The weekend brunch comes with a jug of cocktail pictured above and there’s the choice of three ‘gazoz’ drinks, we opted for the grapefruit and thyme mixed with prosecco which was incredibly refreshing and the jug was more than enough for two.
The weekend brunch comes with a mezze of unlimited small plates that you can reorder to your hearts desire.
Hummus with chickpeas was perfectly creamy and smooth, or you could dip your pitta in strained yoghurt with chive and za’atar oil. I’m a big fan of spice so I ordered a second portion of grilled Turkish chillies and I also loved the heritage tomatoes and coriander.
Aubergine with sweet potato and walnut was a favourite, as was harissa butternut and maple. Chopped liver with crispy onion may not be for everyone but as we both grew up in Jewish households, Mr S and I are quite used to seeing it on the table.
Huge chucks of feta were a welcome addition to the table as were the kippers with paprika and lemon.
Dishes not quite for me were the date and cardamom butter and the grape, anchovy and tarragon puff which were both too sweet. I was on the fence with the grilled beetroots with mint and pistachio but Mr S was a fan.
The grilled lemon thyme pitta bread is unlimited too and trust me…you will be ordering more! It’s no surprise as Chef Eran’s cuisine has it’s origins in his mother’s Middle Eastern home cooking and generations of baking expertise. It was this love of his family’s food that led him to open Bala Baya, his first restaurant in London having previously worked for the legendary Ottolenghi.
After the unlimited starters you can choose one dish for main course. Up until about a month ago Mr S had never tried Shakshuka, but now he’s a big fan and it was an easy choice for him.
The tomato sauce was incredibly rich and flavoursome with hearty lamb meatballs (vegetarians can have aubergine) preserved lemon, date tahini and oozing runny eggs. Another slab of that delicious pitta was perfect for dipping in this heavenly dish.
My dish wasn’t quite so successful I loved the cured salmon, the Turkish chilli corn bread and the garlic yogurt but the poached eggs weren’t quite right. One egg was over cooked and the other was perfectly cooked. Overall though it was a very enjoyable dish.
I always find Israeli food very filling but somehow we found space for dessert!
The white cheesecake is seriously good and the bowl of white chocolate, ginger, white peach and black sesame crumble is gorgeous too. A ideal blend of textures and flavours.
Though its actually listed as a main course, I fancied trying the summer berries yogurt with granola and honey as a dessert – a great move as it was totally fantastic and not overly sugary.
We really enjoyed our time at Bala Baya and I think we nearly have Mr S totally convinced about brunch. Don’t you?
PIN FOR LATER:
Arch 25 Old Union Yard Arches
229 Union Street
020 8001 7015
Our brunch was complimentary.