Balaboosta had long been on my Foursquare to-do list, so when it closed its Nolita location earlier this year, I was crushed.
I was also infuriated at myself for missing such an opportunity. (I once even walked in with a friend, trying to get a last minute seat at the bar, but the original location’s bar barely sat three people. The rest of the dining room was also so small that reservations were basically mandatory.)
Fortunately for me (and lots of other people, not to mention the owners’ surely), Balaboosta shortly thereafter announced plans to re-open in the West Village.
The West Village location is not without sacrifices though, as it replaces the owners’ other restaurant, Bar Bolonat. I had never visited myself, but I heard plenty of good things. That said, between the return of Balaboosta and scattered Taim Falafel locations (also same ownership), we should considered ourselves blessed.
Being someone who has a few dietary restrictions (and just obsessed with food photos and menus in general), I always check out a restaurant’s menu online (as well as its Instagram feed and Yelp profile, if available) before visiting. While I had a few things in mind, conveniently, I happened upon The Infatuation’s Instagram Story visit the week before, giving me ideas about what to order: namely the dips trio of hummus, baba ghanoush, and labnneh. These were just plain incredible.
My only complaint: The pita bread is delicious, but they don’t give you nearly enough of it. (Honestly, though, that could be my mantra in life.) I had to keep asking for more to the point where I felt like I was being judged for it. (Although I shouldn’t have been judged for it because the bread, and subsequent re-orders, are not free.)
Also incredible? THE SUNCHOKES. I can’t describe the insane taste these packed. They might have been the best thing I’ve eaten in a long, long time. (And I’m very blessed to have been to many good places lately.) I would come back for those alone. (With a glass of wine, of course. That evening—which offered happy hour until 7PM!—I ordered the Vitkin Israeli Journey 2016, a blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Viognier, Colombard, and Gewurztraminer.)
The cauliflower appetizer is also a good option, incredibly bright from the lemon squeeze.
Aside from the bread joke, the only real disappointment of the evening was the eggplant. The dish was terribly unbalanced, and part of that might be due to the way it’s plated. While it looks editorial (as seen above), there is too much strong spice on one side, and then nothing on the eggplant on top. It’s not until you’re getting until the bottom of the dish that you notice (especially in a candle-lit setting) that there is a peanut sauce that actually brings the dish together. But at that point, you feel like you’re licking peanut butter off a plate without anything to match.
Unfortunately, that came toward the end of the meal, and frankly, the dessert menu isn’t all that inspiring. We ordered a pair of items off the menu (which strangely isn’t even online), including cookies and cream pairing as well as a coconut parfait. They were better than the eggplant…but I wish I had listened to my brother’s suggestion and gone to Ample Hills for ice cream around the corner instead.
That said, the rest of the meal was superb, and the happy hour deal on wine is a great deal. I’d go back for those two options at the very least.