The welcome: service is warm, smiley and slightly chaotic. We had a variety of different servers bringing different dishes and different times and it more or less worked.
The space: the open kitchen is downstairs and diners sit above overlooking the action. Tables are close together, lights are low and the aesthetic is sleek and sculptural. The arched bare brick ceiling makes for great acoustics - though volume and intensity of the background music was a tad erratic and some hardcore house tracks left us hoarse from hollering over the hummus.
The food: firmly in keeping with the small plates trend Bala Baya is another new opening where you order a list of sharing dishes, which arrive sporadically. It's a well-curated selection of Middle Eastern flavours, featuring offal, aubergine and plenty of harissa. The highlight of our five dishes was richly savour ox-cheek hummus mopped up with puffy homemade Pitta. The chicken is, as promised on the menu, 'crispy, sticky and crunchy' and the Malabi pudding is a creamy, coconutty treat.
Would we go again: while the Middle Eastern food doesn't beat our favourites - Ottolenghi or The Barbary, - Bala Baya has its own charm. Plus it's ideally located for those heading to the Young or Old Vic.
|What||Bala Baya, London restaurant review|
|Where||Bala Baya, 229 Union St, London, SE1 0LR | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Southwark (underground)|
09 Jan 17 – 09 Jan 21, This is a permanent opening as of January 9th 2016