Spotlight: Bala Baya
Bala Baya is London’s home of Israeli food and this week at Private Dining London we take a Lunch table to try their sharing plates menu, exotic cocktails and colourful interiors!
Situated less than 5 minutes’ walk from Southwark tube station and nestled in the arches of Union Yard, Bala Baya is a little hidden upon a first encounter. Find their distinct orange signage and glass fronted restaurant to be transported directly to Tel Aviv. Bare bricks, white features and orange accents give a vibrant welcome to guests and we love the open kitchen that takes our attention immediately. Bala Baya consists of two floors; ground floor for the kitchen, relaxed dining and take away lunches and the upstairs mezzanine available for private hire and the bathrooms. The semi-private dining room area upstairs feels special and spacious for 60 guests seated. Taking the space means that you have a private space exclusively for your use but with the open plan style of the restaurant’s two floors and the location of the toilets the area is not fully private. We feel it’s perfect for work parties, private celebrations and relaxed get-togethers. By choosing Bala Baya for your private dining event guests can be transported to the exotics through a varied menu that encourages diners to share and sample a whole host of flavours. There are some classic dishes on the menu such as hummus, pitta bread and dips which feature alongside the Chef’s adventurous twists on chicken, beef and onion and cured salmon.
We chose the pitta breads and hummus to start as we’ve heard about how the breads are freshly made in the kitchen every morning and cooked to demand. The hummus is chunky and a generous portion. The “Beef and Onion” is rich but fresh and will cater to the meat-eaters in your group whereas the pistachio, freekah and mushroom tagine vegetarian dish, “31” is filling for the non-meat lovers. We had two favourite dishes that we insist you have to order if you visit. Firstly, the “Crispy, Sticky, Crunchy” dish which consists of some crispy battered chicken, butternut squash and kimchi within what we can describe as an Israeli take on sweet and sour sauce. Secondly, the cured salmon dish is light and served alongside dried beetroot, rhubarb and a delicious dill jelly. Dessert was a heavy Babka served with a crème anglaise and plums which is definitely made for sharing, whereas the Malibi is a panacotta-esque dessert that could be eaten alone. Desserts are somewhat limited here with only these two options but their cocktail list is extensive and compliments the menu in its colourful and exotic fashion.
What we like about the private dining offerings at Bala Baya is the communal setup and the variety of dishes offered to guests that will appeal to both vegetarians and meat-eaters. The setting is vibrant and is ready for equally vibrant parties to enjoy the space!
Bala Baya, Arch 25 Old Union Yard Arches, 229 Union Street, London, SE1 0LR