Reviews

BabaBoom, Battersea

BabaBoom is a new charcoal kebab kitchen on Battersea Rise, the junction end of Clapham Common that is lively with young professionals most nights and home to several chain restaurants including the brunch hotspot The Breakfast Club, whose popularity is indicated by its queues which I included have subjected myself to (once, in the rain). So it’s nice to see a new independent restaurant with middle eastern flavours establish itself. The focus is on lovingly made kebabs, which have had a bit of a renaissance as of late; Le Bab in Kingly Court and Black Axe Mangal are high on my to do list and just two of many glamorising this fast food dining experience.

Officially opening on 6th September, I was quick (and keen) enough to enjoy 2 meals at BabaBoom last week for their soft launch, sampling discounted food while they tested the water.

The menu is short and simple, and I like that they offer a twist on classics- tahini, a condiment I usually avoid, was blended with sweet potato and gentle spices, served with veg crudités and flatbread; whitebait was fried and dusted in dukkah and a squeeze of lime which went really well with their house made sauces- a cooling yoghurty mint and a harissa ketchup with a hot sweet tang.

We ordered another of the nibbles- red hot sweet pickled chillies, which blew my gob off- though I was warned by our waiter that they were just 10 days into pickling and at max heat. Considerably served on a swoosh of that cool mint sauce and labneh, I thought they were a bit expensive at £3.50 for 3. They were delicious though,  and was glad to see they reappeared on our kebabs.

The kebab process is explained- choose your grilled meat or falafel, have it on a flatbread or salad , then choose a side. I tried the lamb shoulder kebab, succulent meat topped with slaw and coal fire red peppers plus all 4 of the sides to share (2 for £6). My top 2 were the smashed aubergine- mushed and caramelised to a sweet rich flavour topped with labneh and pommegranate; and the freekeh tabbouleh, a fresh herby salad with a nutty texture including perhaps peanuts? which was a well executed twist.

The second visit I had my now favourite kebab- the chicken shish with saffron and orange- a sticky marmalade like glaze coated the charred meat which was generously portioned.I added some grilled mastelo cheese (£2) which I’ve not encountered before but am glad I did- it’s a less mainstream version of halloumi.

We also ordered the broad bean falafel (as a side to share between 3!) which was a more delicate and less crunchy version of your standard falafel. The doughy flatbread deserves mention- it’s a step up from your average pitta, and the perfect vehicle for the charred meats, not sogging under the weight and so substantial it would make a monstrous wrap should you opt to pick it up and get stuck in that way. I preferred to tear it apart to dip in all the lovely juices and sauces mixing together whilst the meat sat atop.

Attention to detail is paid: sauces are in classic squeezy takeaway shop bottles on each table for repeatedly drizzling and tap water is served with cucumber and mint which is a god send with the chilli pickles. I drank a lovely sauvignon blanc from the short wine list, which was £19 a bottle.

BabaBoom do a late night offering, a feast menu which looks good value and brunch of a weekend. Refreshingly, they do not add service charge to the bill, so we tip knowing it goes straight to staff. At half price (including drinks) it came to £14 a head which is pretty good, but can’t help feel it is a tad expensive at full whack in comparison to other similar informal restaurants with short street food themed menus. Regardless,  both times I left happy and satisfied, by the food, atmosphere and prospect of future visits when in the area- it’s a real welcome change to the chains and to I can’t wait to satiate a craving for the one kebab I am yet to try!

Check out the menu here

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Reviews

Brew Cafe, Clapham

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Having racked up a brunch bucket list that that has been too long neglected due to the indulgence of hangovers and homemade bacon butties, this weekends pre holiday prep called for an early start, and so it was time to tick off a trip to Brew cafe on Northcote Road.

Inspired by Aussie all day cafés in Sydney, Brew has a chilled out atmosphere and a menu boasting creative twists on brunch classics, burgers, pizzas, juices and cocktails to take you into the evening . I’ve heard it even does a breakfast in bed special where you can lie and sip prosecco, horizontal as you please, though only at their Putney branch. Dishes such as Turkish pide, one of 2015’s NBTs, and panko crumbed chicken burger showed influences from worldwide cuisines, and it’s spot on with it’s menu buzzwords such as ‘folded’ eggs, which sound much more sophisticated that scrambled eggs.

We got the blueberry pancakes which came stacked with creme fraiche, hot caramelised banana and obv maple syrup. I have a bit of a soft spot for pancakes; I often pick up a 6 pack of scotch for a quick fix at work, and was pleased to find that these lived up to expectations. They were American style, thick and hot out of the pan which is vital. The ratio of egg to flour was higher than that I would use at home, but this didn’t detract from the from the fluffiness. The maple syrup was a little stingy, and had it not been for the crème fraiche I’d have requested some on the side.

To drink I had a sweet and spicy cinnamon latte, and opted for a brownie bite on the side which was a dense chocolately chunk studded with hazelnuts, with more of a truffley than cakey brownie texture. It was deliciously rich, and only 50p extra.

Brew on the whole isn’t cheap- this set me back £13.50 (including 12.5% service charge) and it wasn’t the biggest portion. This isn’t the kind of place you can while away the afternoon with your papers, not least for fear of the bill you could rack up but for the glares from hungry locals waiting for your table. Taking this as a good sign, and with temptations such as toasted banana bread with pistachios and red velvet cake, its somewhere I’d happily revisit for a weekend sweet fix. For dinner and drinks, I’d head to their bigger Putney venue.

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