Bubala, London E1: restaurant review
Try hummus puddled with a nutty brown butter, fragrant tahini ice cream and sunset negronis at this vegetarian Middle Eastern restaurant
Looking for a vegetarian restaurant in London? Read our review of Bubala, and check out more suggestions for vegetarian restaurants across the UK here.
Bubala in a nutshell
Middle Eastern-inspired vegetarian small plates served in a buzzy yet bijou space in East London.
Marc Summers, previously general manager at Berber & Q is heading up front of house, with chef Helen Graham (whose experience spans from The Palomar to The Good Egg) rustling up a feast behind the scenes.
What’s the vibe?
The minimal façade doesn’t reveal much, but step inside and it’s one warm embrace from first sip to last spoonful. Pot plants, palms and on-trend wicker chairs give an al fresco vibe, with an emerald green-tiled bar taking centre stage. A scattering of wooden tables are huddled at the back of the room if you want to get cosy, otherwise, the bar stools and window seats are where it’s at.
What’s the food like at Bubala?
It’s hard to resist ordering everything from the menu (around seven small plates between two people is recommended), and if you’re not sure, opt for the Bubala knows best set menu, a selection of plates for £30. Otherwise, start with the laffa flatbread and dips. Hummus puddled with a nutty brown butter comes silky smooth, while confit garlic and za’atar pep up delicate labneh. Bubbled and smoky, the bread is there to mop them up.
Pass on the fattoush salad and double up on the halloumi instead. Forget squeaky cheese, this chunk melts on the fork and has a gentle funk. Glazed with black seed honey, it’s a sweet, salty kiss of dairy. Load up on latkes, too, which come crisp on the outside, protecting fluffy layers of potato with a punchy toum (garlic) sauce.
Leave a little space for tahini ice cream. Fragrant from orange, sweet from dates and salty from caramel, one small scoop satisfies all sugar cravings.
And the drinks?
A couple of orange options jazz up the new world wine menu, with just a few available by the glass. Invention pays off with the impressive cocktails, be it toast and sesame added to the old fashioned or coriander seed in the sunset negroni. If you’re going booze-free and like things sweet, try the sparkling plum and raisin tonic, otherwise stick to a Seedlip Spice 94.
Be sure to book ahead. After doing a circuit of pop-ups, the 30-cover restaurant is already a Spitalfields hotspot.
Words by Ellie Edwards, September 2019
Interiors photos by Rebecca Hope