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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.
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