La Balabusta, Israeli Food, Eixample

Across from Auto Rosellon is their new sister restaurant: La Balabusta. Beyond Middle Eastern, Cuisine is how it’s billed. Still, with Israeli chef Ronita Stern behind the menu and dishes like chicken schnitzel (20€) the size of a baby’s blanket or the bone-in brisket (28€), it’s most definitely Israeli and diaspora food. And there is 1/2 a loaf of challah with a smoosh of tahini.

It’s a large corner restaurant, light, with two entrances creating a welcome draft. The walls are distressed. The cutlery is help-yourself in the middle of the table. Food comes on small aluminium trays with baking parchment laid on top of it.

It’s a clever menu from a kitchen point of view. Most of the starters and some mains are out of the deep fryer. Dishes like fried anchovies (14€), Hake kebab (19€), Eggplant fritters (12€), Cod Tempura (25€) and the Chicken Schnitzel (20€). Under the 20€, the portions are pretty dinky, but closer to the 30€ end, the dishes become more substantial, as is the case with the beef rib.

Balabusta is buzy. Noises and smells escape from the kitchen. The hard surfaces amplify the customer’s voices. The aluminium trays rattle on the table. It’s an excellent audio approximation of the middle east, which tends to be even more raucous than Spain.

And though I love Spanish food, it’s a pleasure to travel elsewhere. To feel the funny squeak halloumi makes when I bite into it. To taste the tahini that has been sneaked into everything. My main lament is that the raw fresh dishes that are such a pillar of the table in the Middle East are mostly absent. No tabouleh or (Arabic or Israeli – depending on who you ask) chopped salad. Even things like the coleslaw accompanying the schnitzel is a spoonful of an afterthought.

Even taking that niggle into account. La Balabusta is a fun, different and welcome addition. The format and dishes are ideal for a meal out with friends or family. Maybe have a big green salad for dinner to compensate.

La Balabusta
C/ Rosselló 180

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Iakni Lebanese Bar, Sant Antoni
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