LDNReview

Betting is a mug’s game. That’s what life coaches and people who always carry umbrellas will tell you. Sticking your hopes or hard-earned cash on something because of a gut feeling, or favourable percentage, or because Ray Winstone told you to ’av a bang on that, is both daft and dangerous. But it’s also exciting. Which is why some bets are worth making, and why we’re willing to bet that by the end of this review, you’ll be booking a table at Bubala.

Why so confident? Well, just like a Premier League footballer with a bank account in the Cayman Islands, the numbers are on our side. Of the 14 things we’ve eaten at this vegetarian Spitalfields restaurant, 12 have been completely delicious. That’s a 98% success rate, or something. The point isn’t that we’re bad at maths, the point is that we’ve almost bitten fingers off shovelling charred laffa flatbread heaped with burnt butter hummus into our mouths. This is the kind of delicious the Middle Eastern style food at Bubala is. The kind where you become a danger to yourself.

Bubala review image

Considering the restaurant’s Spitalfields location and the surrounding area’s propensity to cause migraines, Bubala is a relative haven. The room, all pastel plastered walls and just-too-big-to-be-nickable plants, is a comfortable, canvas-like space for the colours and flavours of the menu. Nothing around you is meant to distract from the crispy but soft fried aubergine topped with dollops of tangy green zhoug, or the sweet and salty shiitake and oyster mushroom skewers. Even if there was a decorative formaldehyde prize marrow hanging above the bar, you would still find yourself focusing on the food.

Where other restaurants stress how complicated everything is, Bubala does the opposite. The sharing menu stays the same day and night. And that’s a good thing. It means you and your friends will both enjoy a wedge of halloumi covered in black seed honey, at lunch or dinner, and be able to post hunger trap pictures of it on the same day. It’s more opportunity for you to perch on the street-facing counter with just a portion of ful medames - a rich, nap-inducing bean stew topped with yoghurt and pesto - and a slice of buttery malawach for company. Or to book the bar for a dip date. You know, a date where you drink wine, get dips, and check whether there’s any adverse reaction to piling confit garlic topped labneh into your gob. Because if there is, they aren’t a keeper.

Bubala’s one fault - to quote the smarmy parent of an over-achieving child - is that it’s almost too consistent. Meaning that the less plate-licking dishes like grilled cabbage or coconut sorbet, stand out like a measly B-. That’s a minor gripe though. Especially when you can eat for 30-odd quid a head here with a drink or two. And anyway, that so-so cabbage will be forgotten by the time you’re eating a scoop of tahini, date, and tangerine ice cream. It’s a mic drop so sweet, and so moreish, it will leave you thinking that Bubala isn’t just a safe bet. It’s a bloody good one.

Food Rundown

Laffa Flatbread

Direct from Ararat bakery in Dalston, this naan-ish flatbread comes warm, slightly charred, and sprinkled with salt. You’ll want one immediately. Then one for later. And one to use as a duvet cover at home.

Hummus, Pumpkin Tirshy, Labneh, Grapefruit Ezme

These four dips are ordered separately, but let us save you the hassle: order all of them. The hummus is silky smooth with a healthy pool of burnt butter in the middle of it, the tirshy is sweet but savoury thanks to lemon and olives, the grapefruit ezme with tahini has a welcome crunch and sourness, while the labneh is paired with confit garlic. And as everyone knows: anything paired with confit garlic is a good thing.

Bubala review image

Fried Aubergine, Zhoug, Date Syrup

A classic “it’s never like this when I do it at home” plate of food. The aubergine is crisp-like at the edges, but the insides melt in your mouth. The zhoug, loaded with coriander, is a perfect match.

Bubala review image

Ful Medames, Lovage Pesto, Yoghurt, Malawach

Although this is a restaurant best suited to sharing, you could easily come here and drop a tenner on this bean stew with homemade malawich (a bread that’s buttery and pastry-ish) and leave both extremely happy and ready for bed.

Shitake & Oyster Mushroom Skewers

Salty. Sweet. Savoury. Soft. Seductive. Maybe not the last one, but these skewers hit all the right notes. And at £2.50, it would be rude not to.

Bubala review image

Halloumi, Black Seed Honey

You look at that and you think, now that is a piece of halloumi, don’t you. An absolute slab of the most milky kind. You really, really have to be ordering this.

Bubala review image

Confit Potato Latkes, Toum, Aleppo Chilli

Are these latkes? Probably not. Do we care? Not remotely. These bad boys are a new entry into London’s ever growing list of Crispy And Soft Potatoes We’d Like To Eat In Bed Forever. The toum could do with a little more garlic, mind.

Bubala review image

Pomegranate Braised Cabbage, Tahini, Hazelnut

A wet wedge of cabbage that gave us a minor sock in puddle flashback. It’s not bad. It’s just a little one note (tahini) and watery.

Tahini, Date & Tangerine Ice Cream

If anyone leaves any of this you shouldn’t call the police because it’s criminal, you should call us so we can eat it for them. A nutty, sticky, and fruit-filled contender for the finest scoop around.

Bubala review image

Coconut & Cardamom Sorbet, Sumac Roast Plums

This is not a bad dessert, but compared to the guy above, it’s not a hall of famer. The roasted plums are too strong for the sorbet. If you do order it, just make sure you leave a bite of the tahini ice cream to finish on.

Featured in

.
The Best Restaurants In Spitalfields guide image
Guide
The Best Restaurants In Spitalfields

Sheng jian bao, gooey Detroit-style pizza, and more.

London's Best Private Dining Experiences For Under £50 guide image
Guide
London's Best Private Dining Experiences For Under £50

From reservation hacks to affordable set-menu options, this is how to do private dining on a budget.

Where To Eat With Your Dog guide image
Guide
Where To Eat With Your Dog

Not every restaurant in London is welcoming to your four legged friend. This is a guide to the restaurants that are.

The Best Date Night Restaurants In London guide image
Guide
The Best Date Night Restaurants In London

So you’ve committed to leaving the house together. This guide will tell you exactly where to go.

Suggested Reading

.
The Palomar review image
Review
The Palomar

Sit at the bar at The Palomar, this Israeli small plates restaurant in Chinatown, and you’re guaranteed a good time.

Persepolis review image
8.0
Review
Persepolis

Persepolis is a BYOB deli-cum-café in Peckham serving excellent Persian meze at fantastic prices.

Nandine review image
8.5
Review
Nandine

Nandine is a family-run Kurdish restaurant serving up delicious mezze and brunches. It’s also open for dinner on the weekend.

Gunpowder review image
Review
Gunpowder

Gunpowder is a simply designed little restaurant off Commercial Street serving extremely inventive takes on Indian food that will blow your mind.