Balaboosta

by Susan on June 15, 2010

For the third time in as many weeks I went to Mulberry Street. More specifically the block between Spring and Prince, which has become quite the culinary destination. This particular Sunday the occasion was dinner at Balaboosta.

Einat Admony, the chef-owner of Balaboosta, is also the woman behind Taim and its acclaimed falafel and hummus. Staying true to her Israeli roots, Balaboosta’s menu features Middle Eastern food with a Mediterranean touch. The cozy restaurant, filled with bookshelves, wooden tables, and flickering votives also provides a venue for Admony to show us that her aspirations far exceed chick peas.

Balaboosta means “the perfect housewife” in Yiddish. The name suits the restaurant. The servers are warm and friendly. The food has a home cooked quality. The wine is poured more quickly than the water.

Admony’s signature hummus comes to the table in a playful mortar and pestle set-up. When the restaurant first opened it was more of the “make your own” variety. Now, thankfully, it arrives ready for consumption with just a few whole chick peas for those who can’t resist the opportunity to mash. The hummus is thick and fresh. The piping hot pita that accompanies it is out of this world.

The best dish of the night was the Crispy Cauliflower. The marriage of crunchy florets, sweet currants, and pine nuts worked so well we had to resist a second order. Foolproof Patatas Bravas were jazzed up with a sour cream-like  garlic aioli.

Another stellar play on texture and flavor, and a testament to Admony’s skill and creativity, is the Shrimp “Kataif.” Whole shrimp are wrapped in shredded phyllo, fried, and doused in a fish roe sauce that pops in your mouth.

The nightly special was a Seared Duck Breast, glazed with cherry and pomegranate and accompanied by a vegetable tarte tartin. It felt more fall than summer, but it also sounded too good to pass up. The duck was cooked perfectly. The tarte tartin was mediocre. This one is best left for October.

To the contrary, Grilled Branzino, served with asparagus and a fennel and citrus salad was the perfect warm night meal. The fish was slightly under-seasoned and the skin slightly under-crisped, but I’ve yet to meet a Branzino I don’t like.

I’m always reminded how much I enjoy poultry prepared “under a brick.” It rivals even the moistest of roasted birds. Balaboosta’s succulent chicken is no exception.

The best entree was the Spice Rubbed Skirt Steak. Another well-prepared protein with a tantalizing flavor profile that melds sweet and spice. Roasted sweet potatoes and a refreshing and crunchy cumin slaw completed the dish.

Our dessert of Date and Banana Bread Pudding was a poignant conclusion to a meal marked by approachable preparations. More dishes with the skilled and artful punch of the Crispy Cauliflower and Shrimp “Kataif” would cement this NoLIta block on the culinary map, but even as is, this is one housewife Mulberry Street should be proud to call its own.

Balaboosta is located at 214 Mulberry Street near Spring.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

kim June 16, 2010 at 9:43 am

I’m actually looking forward to their brunch, though I’m sure the dinner menu won’t be available. :(

I’m a hummus fiend. Could you taste why their hummus makes it so special? :)

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