Ahead of the opening on 15 November, the lovely team at BABA hosted a bunch of us bloggers for a preview lunch. I couldn’t have been anymore excited than I was to visit, there has been so much hype surrounding this place and rightly so.
Coming from the team behind Ox and Finch in Glasgow, expectations have been set high for BABA. The Levantine inspired menu is full of rich flavours and exciting dishes that Edinburgh is really lacking just now. The huge open kitchen is centred round the fabulous, specially commissioned, BABA charcoal grill where the team prepare fresh, locally sourced Scottish produce.
The menu, cocktails and wines have been perfectly crafted to bring a new and exciting twists to traditional recipes from the Eastern Med and do not disappoint.
On arrival I was met with a beautiful cocktail menu and was tasked with picking just one! If it wasn’t lunch time, I really would have made my way through them all. After a lot of back and forward, I opted for the delightful Barberry Sour. Made with Glenkinchie 12 year old single malt, date & barberry syrup, cointreau, lemon and aquafaba, it was the perfect combination. It was almost creamy with the perfect sweetness and the whisky coming through on the finish. I honestly could’ve spent all day just drinking this!
First up on the menu was the incredible Mezze section. We were presented with two dishes and OHMYGOODNESS!! They were both just incredible. The cauliflower fritters, zhug and crème fraîche were just cooked to perfection and the most delightful batter I have ever tasted! But my favourite had to be the haggis and harissa kibbeh. I am a huge haggis fan, but these were just out of this world delicious!! Honestly, I couldn’t get enough of these. Perfectly spiced and bite sized, whats not to love? Who knew haggis and harissa would pair perfectly together?!
Next up were the dips! Now, we were warned about this part and told not to fill up on bread, but my goodness that was tough!! The grilled pitta was all lovingly hand made and just heavenly. Starting from the top right we have; Goat’s cheese, pistachio, lemon & courgette; Labneh, cherry tomatoes & harissa; Squash, chilli, toasted seeds, tahini & za’atar; Beetroot hummus, whipped feta & hazelnut dukkah; Hummus, pine nuts & zhug; and finally smoked salmon taramasalata, keta & pickled cucumber. Pictured below is the baba ganoush, pomegranate & mint dip.
I honestly couldn’t fault any of these (well maybe the salmon one cause i reeeeeally don’t like salmon!). Each one was packed full of exotic flavours that you are never going to find in those supermarket dips. You could just ditch the bread and eat all of these will a spoon!
It was hard to pick just one I loved the most, but if I had to, I would bury my face in this beautiful squash dip and never come out! There is nothing quite like it in this world! Also, the beetroot hummus was just divine and the Labneh was paired with the most fresh and juicy tomatoes ever! But to be honest with you, they were all just perfect. Such a great wee treat to start off your meal.
After the heavenly dips, we were treated to several dishes from the grill section of the menu. There were four dishes served overall but I only tried these two, but lordy were they amazing! First up was Monkfish, chickpeas, tomato, saffron, parsley & feta. Now, normally I am not a fish fan, but this was a game changer!! The fish was cooked to perfection and didn’t have that horrible fishy taste that I hate. It was tender and flavoured perfectly and served on the most delicious tomatoey goodness. The chickpeas weren’t overdone and the saffron not too over powering. Overall, it was pretty darn delish!
But the real MVP of the grill is the Chuck-eye steak! OH BOY! This was mouth-wateringly good. I am not much of a red meat eater, but this seriously convinced me! Perfectly cooked steak topped with a beaut sumac onion salad on a delightful bed of red pepper ketchup. They need to bottle this stuff, it was scrumptious!!
Next up were the kebabs. Sadly, due to my cinnamon allergy I couldn’t try these beauties, but I can confirm everyone else loved them. Even just looking at them you can tell they would be delish! They are served with pitta, harissa, zhug, garlic tahini, herbs and picked salad. Pictured above is the Lamb Shawarma.
Last up from the main food menu was the most amazing side dish, Ptitim, preserved lemon and harissa. It was very similar to giant cous cous, but with so much more flavour. It was perfectly balanced between the sour and spicy, making it the perfect side to all the main courses. I would be happy just eating a plateful of this stuff!
And after all that food, they brought out dessert! Honestly, I was ready for being rolled home! I opted for the olive oil cake served with dates and yoghurt. I honestly was so so so excited to have this cause I flipping love dates and had fired it in my mouth before checking the ingredients. and guess what? There was a whole bunch of cinnamon in there! so sad! BUT! I did enjoy my big bite and can confirm it is heavenly! I would’ve gone on and ate it all if wasn’t for knowing it would make me horribly sick!
With dessert I also had the BABA mint tea which was a perfect end to the most perfect meal and served in the cutest little pot and cup.
Now, I know this has been a super gushy post, but I honestly couldn’t fault this place at all. Maybe it was the company too, but I just had such a wonderful afternoon enjoying amazing food and making some new blogging friends at the same time. The staff were amazing for it not even being open yet. They were all so knowledgable and accommodating to us all. Overall, a fantastic experience and I will 100% be going back.
You can find BABA at 130 George Street, Edinburgh. Opening day is Wednesday 15th November and they are now taking bookings.