Bala Baya: Light My Fya
Opening earlier this year, Bala Baya calls itself a Tel-Aviv style eatery. Understatement of 2017, right there. You’ll find it at the end of a row of railway arches in Southwark, all home to hot foodie outposts in the postcode. Whilst the split-level spot is dressed up with clean lines and white walls, it’s got an air of warmth, calling you inside.
I’m sat at the curved bar, right in front of the ceviche section. The Bolivian chef looking after the section pipes up every so often for a chat, full of banter but not in your face. Yes I’m basically in the kitchen, which might not sound like much of a night off, but it works. The best craic always happens in the kitchen anyway.
An interesting range of cocktails piques my interest, and the tomato negroni makes for a good first stop. There are a series of menus ranging from small and big tasting through to a la carte. Warm fluffy pockets of pitta come with all of them, which Darty welcomes with open arms, strong sauce mopping material after all.
Bala Baya elevates the humble hummus to a new level of food heaven, so long claggy tahini riff raff, in with the good stuff! The team helpfully guides us through their favourites from the kitchen. Having eyed up the meticulous ceviche process since arriving, one of these chili-laced beauties swimming in punchy salsa just isn’t enough.
Other notable highlights include ‘Squidelicious’ and ‘Crispy, Sticky, Crunchy’. The latter is a total knockout dish of the crunchiest chicken thighs with plenty of harissa and kimchi. From communication to preparation and delivery, the whole menu is fun and playful, a real celebration of food.
So at Bala Baya, it’s not just a case of a few Israeli dishes on the menu. The place, the tracks, the energy and the effusively charming team whisk you off your feet to Tel-Aviv whilst you’re there.
Five Very Kerri things about Bala Baya
- The smiles
- Tomato negronis
- Seriously stylish exotic panache
- It just makes you want to party
- Brunch to come back for