During my inaugural visit to Balaboosta, I entered the restaurant with a sense of curiousity and excitement. In keeping with New York quintessence, Balaboosta is like much of the trendy spots in the city to eat. On the outside, windows exhibit expansive jars of preserved vegetables and other pickled items, ushering a busy, open kitchen, and an ambient dining room.
Yet beyond the maquillage of a wooden hanging ceiling, a chalkboard menu, and a solitary photo of the chef’s aunt, bathing amidst a halo of muted light, the food is really good.
The Falafel Wrapped Meatballs are a gutsy twist on the vegetarian chickpea-based recipe. Served à la corn dog mediterranean, they were interesting, but came off as unneccessarily indulgent, and left me craving fried kibbe instead.
Shrimp Kataïf is tempura with a Middle Eastern point of view. Served with Flying Fish Roe Sauce it fared as a pleasently fleeting but still very palatable moment.
The 15-spice macerated Spice Rubbed skirt Steak is bodacious. A firework of flavor finishes with a curious sweetness reminiscent of a Middle Eastern barbeque sauce—if there were such a thing. Accompaniments consist of a cumin slaw and of some the best roasted potatoes I’ve had in a while. Dusted with seasalt, they’re perfectly sweet, warm, and simple.
The Chicken Under a Brick is essentially Jaj Imsahab, a very Middle Eastern method of broiling butterfly chicken. It sits with carmelized onions, a vinegary gremolata, and a splendid pearl couscous with dried apricots and leeks. Word on the foodie street raves about the Lamb burger, which boasts an herbed cheese center, and the Crispy Cauliflower with Currants and Pine Nuts.
214 Mulberry St
New York, NY