As part of my long and rather staggered relocation to Battersea (a choice which is, admittedly, my own!), I decided to finally test out a local brunch/lunch spot on Battersea Rise. It’s also diagonal to Soif, a natural wine bar, which is also on My List, but more on that one that another time. In any case, BabaBoom was likely to accelerate me into moving proper given its Middle Eastern allure, with the enticing smokiness of falafel kebabs and moreish (and Moorish) hummus. Battersea – whether Northcote Road, St John’s Hill or even Lavender Hill (I’m thinking of Social Pantry) – is undoubtedly a brunch haven. But I’m pleased to have a spot specialising in Middle Eastern foods and which has less of a yummy mummy vibe (unlike nearby Gail’s which is pram centre).
With Brooklyn-esque exposed brick walls, bench seating and an open kitchen, the Mangal grill takes centre stage here, while the frozen margarita and Caravan Coffee dispensers take up the drinks area. Sadly, it was far too cold on this January day to even contemplate a lunchtime margarita, even though I did in fact have a voucher for a complimentary one as a local resident! BabaBoom feels very upbeat inside, especially given its buzzing playlist, geometric light shapes, and brass counter seating by the window.
With the Mangal oven at centre stage, BabaBoom specialise in kebabs. Although kebab and veggie don’t sound promising combination, it’s falafel (and grilled cauliflower) to the rescue. After a long debate between the waiter and I about whether the Falafel kebab (£9.50) or Baba’s Balanced Lunchbox (£7.50) (which also features falafel) was a better option, I opted for the latter. I do have a soft spot for bowl food; I love creating my own Buddha Bowls, throwing together different flavours and textures, herbs and spices, colours and cultures. Made well, they feel refreshingly healthy and full of colour and crunch.
My lunchtime bowl today – served effortlessly well in Falcon Enamelware – threw together harissa roasted squash tabbouleh, avocado tahini, roasted red pepper and broad bean falafel. Although avocado, tahini and falafel is an unusual combination, it kind’a worked, probably given the broad bean filling of the falafel. The portions were generous and the flavour full of Middle Eastern spicing and zingy herbs. The harissa sauce certainly had a fiery kick. Although I couldn’t really detect any squash in the tabbouleh, which could have also done with more fresh herb scattering, it had a welcome bite and paired well with the avocado. The Romano pepper had also been roasted to sweet perfection.
My favourite flavour of the day, however, was the Sweet potato hummus (£4.75, although complimentary today as a local resident!). Topped with crispy onions and served with giant crudities and a flame-blistered flatbread (from a south London-based Syrian baker), it was perfectly seasoned and positively addicted. Having dipped the beetroot hunk into some of it, I ended up finishing the rest by the spoon (or rather fork)…without shame (bizarrely, they didn’t have any spoons).
Against Battersea’s chains, BabaBoom is a pomegranate-studded jewel. And our waiter today was fun and young, cracking jokes at my indecision. Middle Eastern eateries – with their Mangal ovens, dips of all hues, and of course falafel – are among my favourite to eat out. BabaBoom has certainly lured me closer to moving to the neighbourhood.
BabaBoom, 30 Battersea Rise, London, SW11 1EE