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

Chick n Sours, Dalston

So last month I heard of a new opening on Kingsland Road;  a fried chicken and sour cocktails joint, a niche combo that commands attention on the strip otherwise saturated with Vietnamese eateries. Lucky enough to bag a spot on the soft launch, I booked in early doors to enjoy 50% off food.


We were greeted by the friendly staff and owner Carl who threw in a free welcome cocktail, obviously knowing the key to my heart. We chose the House Sour, which came generously sloshed in a tankard and topped with freeze dried strawberries, the type you get in Special K that go tangy with the addition of milk, and unsurprisingly are much better on cocktails.

 

The menu had an Asian influence with lots of sweet and spicy and tangy combos, highly preferable to the standard chicken/lettuce/mayo/bun which is now all too reminiscent of KFC. We ordered some strips to start with a blue cheese sauce which was robust in flavour and generously portioned, always highly appreciated as a sauce obsessive. Note the little pot of chilli oil on each table. Nice touch- it was cordially drained.

As our main dish we ordered the ‘House Fry’- 2 large pieces of fried chicken smothered in a sweet and sour sauce topped with toasted cashews, coriander and fresh chilli. It was SO GOOD, the Korean flavours airing more to the sweet than the salty, but still with a kick akin to rib n saucy Nik Naks. We chose a side of pickled watermelon salad- I am a fan of wacky sides so it was right up my street and it worked really well. Topped with chopped nuts and coriander it was a refreshing contrast to the indulgent chicken coating and had a lovely mix of textures that every salad should embrace.  We also had the fries which were very similar to those at McDonalds ( a good thing) and chose the XO Mayo (peanut- satay twist- again a nice element of asian fusion) to dip.

 

Other menu options included the Korean bun which was going down a storm and no wonder as it was huge, one you would find difficult getting your chops around even if you cut it in half; I had food envy. Overall the menu was small and concise, concentrating on what they do well like most places in London now, reflecting that quality and imaginative combos are the way forward.

To finish we sampled their Mr Whippy style ice cream topped with shredded Weetabix. This was a nice malty crunchy topping for the soft serve, but it could have done with a bit of sauce. The raspberry one traditionally drizzled on 99ers would be perfect and surely slot in nicely with the sweet and sour theme.

Chick n Sours is the ideal Friday night destination for a few after work cocktails to warm you up for the night ahead. If I didn’t live in Brixton, I’d make it my local for the friendly vibes and good balance of an intimate and buzzing atmosphere.

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