I think I just ate the best salad in my life. The first time I walked passed Balaboosta I remember thinking to myself how ballsy it was to have a big open window into the kitchen of a restaurant with such a silly sounding name. It was only later having visited their sister establishment Taim I realised that as ridiculous as the name may sound the food was likely to be good.
Israeli chef/owner Einet Admony has expanded her repertoire to cover many different Middle Eastern and Mediterranean style dishes. Much like the workings of Yotam Ottolenghi she has melded together all of the best elements.
The lunch menu starts with a selection of small plates including favourites such as hummus, babaganoush, house made pickles, and the slightly incongruous patatas bravas. There follows a small choice of salads and sandwiches and four different mains. I really struggled deciding what to have as almost all the options were so appetizing. In the end we settled on a selection of small plates and salads to share.
The hummus was good, the homemade pita was topped with za’atar and still warm from the oven. The only complaint I could make was one pita was never enough for the accompanying hummus. Next up was the patatas bravas served with garlic aioli, they were crunchy on the outside and light and fluffy in the middle, potato perfection. A side salad of Quinoa with chickpeas preserved lemon and dried cranberry followed. Once more a treat as the salty and sweet flavours were perfectly balanced. Then came the coup de grace. We only ordered the crispy cabbage salad at our servers request since the salad we had wanted from the specials board was actually part of the previous nights dinner menu and unavailable.
As in life it is in those moments of chance that amazing things can happen. Salads are not supposed to be that good, that is why
god created meat…..But on this occasion mere vegetables, nuts, herbs and some funny noodle things were the very heights of achievement. Crispy Cabbage Salad : Romaine, Savoy, Roasted Almonds, Crispy Noodles, Cumin, Fresh Mint Vinaigrette; who would imagine these simple things could elicit such pleasure?
Even before the meal was over I knew we would have to return, I am just not sure whether to head back for the lunch menu and attack the meatier sections or go for dinner and try their famed falafel coated meatballs….oh the decisions. One thing I know is that I implore anyone visiting NY to slip out of SoHo and down to Nolita to try Balaboosta.
While in the neighbourhood you could check out these other faves of mine.
Red flower, for scented candles that actually smell nice (blood orange is best)
Steven Alan, expensive but classy men and woman’s fashion.
McNally Jackson booksellers, great selection of titles with a cafe too and it’s not Barnes and Noble!