- scene: Small restaurant that doesn’t feel that way because of the large windows in the front; dimly lit candles create a cozy vibe, and noise level is not too bad
- sip: creative cocktails; wine list has some unfamiliar options, but staff is helpful
- savor: hummus; meatballs; cauliflower; sea bass; lamb lamb lamb
- sit: With friends that like to share food; not a bad date place but the menu is a little exotic
- spend: $$
- address: 214 Mulberry Street (Spring Street)
- phone number: (212)-966-7366
- website: www.balaboostanyc.com
Balaboosta means “good housewife” in Yiddish, which tickles me. For a while I thought that it meant “impossible to get into”, but in the end the wait was worth it. I chock up the inability to score a reservation to the rather small size of the restaurant, not a “holier than thou” attitude like the Lion. But I digress. If Balaboosta were easier to get into, or just a little closer to my home, I would be tempted to dine there once a week. The entire experience was pleasant on every dimension, and it left me surprised in a good way. Go onto Opentable right now and click “next available”. Do it now.
D and I were going with a friend of ours that we have lived with in the Hamptons for several summers, but we were still a little nervous if she would be down to share the starters. Fortunately, we were all on the same page. I love Middle Eastern food in any incarnation, and often times the only way to get it is in more “to-go” type places. (Except when I am in LA and we sit down for a Persian FEAST). Anyway, we started with hummus, cauliflower and the meatballs. The cauliflower was our friend’s contribution, and not something I would usually get excited about, but they were prepared with optimal flavor and texture, fried, with currants and pine nuts. They were also big stalks of cauliflower, which I have new respect for, as now I realize that it is more than broccoli’s albino cousin. The hummus came with a mortar and pestle-like set-up, and we were encouraged to mash up the chickpeas on top. It was a great consistency and had sharp flavor, and it was served with homemade fluffy pitas sprinkled with zaatar.
Drumroll…meatballs! Or shall I say falafelballs. I don’t know how this invention was created, but I can’t believe I lived 30 years without encountering it before. The meatballs, are lamb meatballs INSIDE a falafel. Crispy, perfectly fried falafel, with citrusy tahini sauce on the side, and a meatball inside it. There were three in an order and I wished we got two orders. In a word, they were AMAZEfalafelmeatBALLS.
For entrees, D and I had the Sea bass, which is not something I usually order but it was sublime. The texture was light, ad it was served with cheese (!), sun-dried tomatoes and pumpkin, in a citrus sauce. Our friend had the lamb on the menu, and loved it. It came out perfectly cooked. We were typically too full to eat dessert, but I know that I will be back. I need to go back to try the chicken cooked under a brick. Since I myself am pretty far from a “Balaboosta”, I am happy that there is one in Nolita that is such a good chef.