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Arch 25, 229 Union Street
A high-energy tribute to Tel Aviv, Bala Baya combines a party soundtrack with a tempting menu of Middle Eastern sharing plates, beneath a rumbling railway arch. The all-white ground floor features an open kitchen overlooked by a curvaceous dining counter, while the mezzanine is ideal for groups and longer visits. Israeli chef Eran Tibi created a buzz with Zest (his pop-up collab with Berber & Q’s Josh Katz), but on our visit, the food didn’t entirely match up. We enjoyed a compelling combo of crispy fried chicken, bitter orange and the puckery tang of kimchi, yet timid hummus and a stodgy pairing of lamb neck with dumplings fell flat. Many dishes sounded delicious, such as crispy calamari with saffron and butternut jam, yet lacked arresting flavours. Nevertheless, a sumptuous dessert of chocolate-and-hazelnut babka cake with stewed plums produced a show-stealing finale. With its abundant energy and on-trend details, Bala Baya bubbles with potential.
Arch 25, 229 Union Street
020 8001 7015
Southwark Tube Station 207m
Waterloo East Station 249m
Union Theatre 44m
Jerwood Space 206m
Mon-Sat 8am-11pm (Sat 9am- ) Sun 10am-7pm
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 4
It is just round the corner from me and I have been walking past all the time desperate to go. Finally we did - and we had a great Saturday date night - and will most definitely be going back.
We had the best seat in the house - the counter - and watched the chefs to effortlessly prepare an excellent and exciting array of dishes.
My personal favourite was the pitta, the chicken dish and the trout.
We got served by the most lovely guy, who made us feel right at home. We were stunned when he told us he had only been there for a week! We chatted back and forth with him, the owner and one of the chefs, which only heightened the dining experience.
It is not the cheapest of places, especially if you are drinking. But it is great and casual and well worth a visit.
Food + drink: 3
Bala Baya, Southwark – The Southwark neighbourhood, though close to myself, isn’t really somewhere that I intuitively go for when I want to dine out. When night falls, the area is quiet and exudes an urban feel of being in between an office and residential area. However, off the main road a handful of restaurants found under the railway arches change that street into an oasis of foodie utopia.
The dining upstairs was very dim and on this occasion worked at their disadvantage because the colours of the dishes and those microscopic salad garnishes did not stand out. Although that was alright, trying to read the menu proved to be a challenge.
Bala Baya’s concept is based on a sharing menu, with small and large plates, food comes out as and when it is ready and in no particular order. Their custom made pitta bread served as soon as our drinks arrived was delicious – warm, soft and fluffy. A very good complimentary dish.
Bala Baya is new, the workers were enthusiastic, the place was sparkling clean but the food was still a little lacking in the Middle Eastern flavours that I was expecting. The basis and concept of the food is still Middle Eastern but with a touch of other ingredients that makes certain dishes perceived as modern and young. There isn’t of course anything wrong with it, just appeals to certain crowd. I enjoyed it as a night out where food is not the main importance but the atmosphere, convenient for us to get to, decent drinks and service were good enough that we concluded that it was a good night out, but whether we will return, it’s hard to say.
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