Grilled marinated octopus with shaved fennel, sunflower shoot and seed salad $14
The most striking smear of black I’ve ever seen on a dish. A very striking touch that felt totally appropriate for this delicious dish. Two thick and juicy morsels of octopus, grilled and slightly charred for a rich smoky flavor. The mound of crisp, fresh fennel was light and refreshing. Bitter sunflower shoots were slightly bitter (and a tad awkward to eat) but otherwise added nice color and texture to the dish. Garnished with crunchy seeds. A great starter to share or, if you’re especially hungry, to scoff all on your own.
Grilled lamb chops with Persian lime sauce, imjadra and labne, cucumber-cilantro salad $28
These tender and moist chops, which I ordered medium rare, were proudly placed on the dish. The chef served them with a generous serving of thick, creamy and slightly overpowering sauce. It could have been more cleanly done. The imjadra (a traditional middle-eastern rice and lentil dish) was blended harmoniously with a spicy cilantro salad, earthy lentils and crunchy cucumber. It was garnished with labne – a dense yoghurt to balance the flavors.
Spice rubbed skirt steak with roasted salsify, oyster mushrooms and sautéed green beans, tomato vinaigrette $26
Vibrantly seasoned steak (the cut was a little too tough for my tastes) served with seasonally appropriate salsify. Velvety oyster mushrooms but only a few green beans haphazardly strewn across the plate. Unfortunately, our chef was a bit too heavy with the brightly colored sauce.
Boneless all natural half chicken cooked “under a brick” with Israeli couscous with dried apricots, green leeks and gremolata sauce $23
A simple, clean and tasty dish. Juicy breast and thigh were moist, meaty and tender. Nicely seasoned, slightly spicy. Israeli couscous (known as Ptitim in Israel) is a toasted pasta shaped like rice or little balls. Wheaty flavors, mixed with tart apricots and refreshing leeks. Tangy gremolata sauce, made from parsley, garlic, lemon zest and other tasty ingredients was served on the side. My dining companion and I were glad it was served on the side as the dish was very tasty without it.
Overall, Balaboosta is a great place to go for a very tasty, casual meal. The space is cosy, the staff friendly (if a bit frazzled) and the food is reliable and an interesting mix of fine Mediterranean and flavorful middle-eastern. At times, the sauces were too applied too liberally, overpowering a simple dish with an unnecessary excess of flavors. Oh, and the garlicy smoked eggplant bruschetta is a must have. I promise, you won’t regret it!
241 Mulberry St.