Since moving to NYC, I’ve introduced my taste buds to a tremendous amount of new cuisines I hadn’t been able to experience much in my small Midwestern hometown. One of my favorite discoveries is Middle Eastern food, and so it didn’t take long for me to stumble upon Balaboosta, a husband-and-wife-owned restaurant with a menu best described as “Mediterranean meets Middle East.”
After dining at the Soho eatery with my mom years ago, I recently headed back to Balaboosta with my friend Hanna for brunch. The space is charming and was packed on this particular Sunday afternoon (it was basically empty during my last visit), but because we had a reservation, we were seated right away. Unfortunately, our tiny table was crammed into a tight corner and we felt a little claustrophobic, but we weren’t about to let that ruin our brunch.
Per usual, Hanna and I arrived ready for drinks and quickly ordered a round. I’m obsessed with ginger drinks, so I ordered the ginger mimosa, while Hanna chose the Chava, which consisted of pomegranate juice, creme de cassis, and cava. Both drinks were light and fruity — the perfect way to start any springtime brunch.
Next it was time for food. Because we both had some shopping to do after brunch for an upcoming event, and didn’t want to eat too much (there’s nothing worse than trying on clothes with an overly full stomach), we decided to pass on ordering an appetizer to share like we usually do and skipped right to the entrees.
I ordered the poached eggs — the same dish I had during my first brunch at Balaboosta. Made with roasted red pepper hollandaise, scallions, chickpeas, pearl onions, and challah, this is basically Balaboosta’s take on an Eggs Benedict, only way better. This dish was so good the first time I had it, I had to order it again, and lucky for me, it tasted just as delicious as I remembered. The Hollandaise sauce was creamy and flavorful, the pearl onions stood out but weren’t overpowering, and everything else worked perfectly together. The greens on the side were a nice, healthy touch too.
Hanna went with the braised short rib hash, which was made with cilantro yogurt sauce, topped with a fried egg, and served with grilled sourdough bread. She was seriously impressed with this dish and described it as tender and juicy.
As we were finishing up our food, we decided to order one more round of drinks. I got another ginger mimosa, and Hanna–needing a little caffeine boost for her post-brunch shopping trip–ordered the Hafuch, a rum-based drink with espresso and black cacao. Both drinks were satisfactory and a solid end to our meal.
Bitches say: Five flutes. The food and drinks at Balaboosta were impressive, but the space felt a little too crowded for our liking, and the service was only so-so. I’ll definitely be back again for those perfect poached eggs soon.
Balaboosta serves brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.