#Review BALABAYA their new opening menu… FOOD GALORE!

Hi friends,

Oh my god, this year is flying by- seriously, is January really nearly over? I guess time really does fly by when you’re getting older (ha)

I told myself this year I should venture out to new restaurants and food shops; trying new dishes will be my thing of this year! It’s beyond a joke outside, far too cold to venture out and freeze your tits off, so finding new places is just a no no right now.

But, I was very fortunate enough to be invited along to B opening night with press, journalists and food reviewers. So little me trotted into central to check it out!I am the first blogger in London to review it, as they’ve only been open for 3 weeks now.

Astonishing night, delicious food (I could eat right now) and a friendly upbeat, it feels like I’ve known the staff forever kinda vibe, which is just extremely rare to find in London!Bala Baya is situated in the central. Yes, if you actually look at the map, a street not far from Southwark is actually in the middle of London. You learn something new everyday right? It’s literally a 2 minute walk from the station, which was fabulous for my dear feet as I was in 5 inch thin heels! It’s placed in the old union arches, on the right hand side when you walk out the station (towards travel lodge).

Throughout my life I have been surrounded by top quality food, from my own family and people around me. The best of best dishes I’ve had and I know what 5* star food tastes like.. So, automatically my tastes buds were more than ready to try the dishes and hoped it was top quality! As soon as you reach the front door, the front door opens for you, you’re greeted with a smile and you can immediately tell by the first impression the vibe is very friendly and welcoming! In London I’m so used to a grumpy vibe and non existent welcoming atmosphere, so maybe that’s why I was shocked at a late evening the staff were really buzzing and honestly enjoyed working there!I hadn’t of expected the staff to be so energetic and full of life, I mean, it was around 9pm!

You can tell they love working there and love people too. I ended up having brief conversations with the staff there, they were honestly so cool and lovely that’s what I loved! You feel comfortable and can immediately tell if you needed something, just anything, you wouldn’t feel as if you were being annoying, if you know what I mean? I feel first impressions are just the ultimate make or break, because if you feel like the surroundings are hostile and drags the life out of you, you’re not really going to bother coming back- or worse not enjoy the experience and more likely not want to stay longer.My friend Nick, is one of the chefs there and he invited me along to this opening event- so thank you SO much Nick- not only for being there for me that day when I needed it,-giving me life advice and all that shiz, but also treating me to the dishes and truly made sure I enjoyed my evening! – I did! So badly needed an evening like that!

Ok, so on to the food.. You’re welcomed with hot pitta bread, (which is freeeeeee) the bread comes along with the ultimate homemade sauce. Literally, you would think I was pregnant by the amount of bread I had- so fresh, sauce so addictive and made you eager to actually taste the dishes

1) Firstly, we had chickpeas and ox – (£9) with the warm hummus. Chewy taste cooked well, loved the touch of flavours the texture was thick. The portion was very large than I had expected. Nick and I -who have huge appetites couldn’t finish it all, which ultimately says something here- they offer more than what you expected- so worth the money!

2) Next, Fish Tartar  (11) and spinach & bottarga  (£7) The fish was just superb- if you love raw fish go for it! I mean the word love, because it’s a very small portion, maybe the size of my palm- so worth the money. There was a lot of spinach and bottarga- everything was made to perfection and the flavours were tasty.

3) Then we had offal and pearls (£4), which was calf’s brain, lebanese pearls, calvados & almond milk sauce. If you have never tried brain before, then it’s not what you initially expect. The section is very soft, it’s almost as if it dissolves in your mouth very quickly, it’s a gooey feel. The rest fitted in perfectly and at this point I was already full!

5) Oh yes, xtineloves continues to eat.. It felt like woman VS food here so bare with, ha. but I desperately wanted to try their calamari as I am obsessed with it and calamari & jam (£8) was so worth it. Very crispy and full of flavours from the first bite! Its the crush which got me- I loved that! Unfortunately we were unable to finish it, which annoys me as writing this up because I am hungry for it! Grrrr. Ha‘ Thought you said you wrere full..’ I hear you speak to this post, yes, quite right we were, but nevertheless Nick told me the dessert wouldn’t make you want to blow up (imagine, ha) it’s very light and very fruity.

So if you love fruits, go for it felica! Malabi coconut & alibu set milk (£7), rhubarb & blood orange compote- very worth it! You can’t really taste the coconut, mostly the hubarb, so if you’re not a ‘coco-nutter’ fan, then don’t be put off. It looks so instagrammable, so fruity and light- such a perfect dessert!To wash it all down, I had a cocktail- Artichoke Julep  (10)cynar, pink grapefruit juice, grapefruit sherbet which I have not had in ages, in ages I mean 3 weeks, so really took it tole on me! It has an aqauired taste- fruity with a hint of strong. That’s how I’ll explain it. 7/10  Nick had the whiskey one, which tasted SO good, wish I went for that instead! You couldn’t taste much of the whiskey, mostly honey so I would say to everyone definitely go for it!

I met the owner, chefs, investors, literally everyone who’s part of the business and restaurant side. So genuine; you can tell their passion is real in their eyes and the love to make it a restaurant one which you’ll find hard to brush off. I can’t wait to tell my friends and family about it, which says a lot about it! Thanks to Bala Baya gang, you truly made my evening special and thanks to one who took some of the photos of me and my friend Nick! The food pictures taken by me. Nick “aren’t you going to take a photo of it..” While I picked up my cutlery about to demolish the dish- sometimes, you forget! aha, what a #bloglife I have!! I can’t wait to see it progress further, hopefully see more around London.

Congrats on everything guys, seriously it’s going to take off!Dishes were inspired and taken note from the middle eastern heritage; Bala Baya is at Arch 25, Old Union Yard Arches, 229 Union Street, SE1 0LR. Follow Bala Baya on Twitter @Bala_Baya and Instagram @Bala_Baya. (their page is just SO food porn) Venue- 10/10 close to station, loved the decor and layout- you can see the chefs while you’re sitting down and it’s next to the bar- win win situation

Food 9/10- Some of the dishes could have had more salt, butter. (but that’s just me) The rest was just perfection! Staff 10/10 Lets just say your passion, vibe, hospitality was beyond expected and I can’t wait to see your friendly faces again!T

Thanks angels gain for reading my posts and for always wanting more!

p.s not pregnant, just, erm, love food, more than the average 24 year old… p.p.s check out their instagram page- it’s actually food porn! then go check it for yourself in person 😉

Night night friends!

Sleep well!XTINE

*Treated by the venue- all paid for- (I gave a tip, obviously)- but, all reviews 100% honest! No influence whatsoever.

*Our meals would’ve come to around 120/ meal for two (with house wine, around 4-7 dishes 150)

Can come up to under 50, depends on dishes!

Cocktail!

The calf’s brain! Top right, so soft and the flavours from the rest were just amazing! I want to make it myself now!

Potatoes were soft and loved the spices in it!

 Raw fish!

 My dessert! So delicious! Part of my 5 a day, right, ..right..

 Such a fun night, full of bubbly fun people! I feel so inspired and motivated with life just by their passion!

 Dress; New Look (#SS2016)

 Shoes Primark

 My good friend Nick! He’s a chef there!

 I’m guessing I annoyed everyone with my flashes, so continued shooting pictures once everyone had left, before you think where’s everyone at?! It was very busy!

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