Balaboosta, the homey and airy offshoot to the Middle Eastern favorite Taim, opened last month in a small spot in Nolita. Since its debut, both Taim fans and newcomers have been weighing in on the blogs, Yelp, and Menupages to alternately sing its praises, call it out as overpriced, and complain about the DIY hummus (which has since been discontinued). Overall though, she's a hit. See below for the early word.
The Mostly Good News: The Serious Eats crew gave it an A-: "we found the prices mostly fair, if not exactly gentle, and the quality of the dishes to emerge from the kitchen somewhere between tasty and spectacular...The dishes we tried weren't entirely without flaw, and for those accustomed to more casual Middle Eastern fare, may seem quite pricey. That said, Balaboosta has quite a bit to recommend itself—a spacious, almost serene Nolita setting...dishes that walk a pleasing line of familiar and exciting, expected and surprising..." [SE]
The Skip the Hummus News: The Hungry Roach is a fan but not of the hummus: "I was very intrigued by the make-your-own hummus as it was served with a mortar and pestle...This would have been a great idea had all of the flavors come together in the way that I envision homemade, fresh hummus. And, in the end, we both agreed something was missing - possibly the oil. However, the homemade whole wheat pita brushed with rosemary and oil made the dish completely worth it. My favorite dish was the shrimp kataif with flying fish roe sauce. The shrimp were wrapped in a thinly shredded dough pastry and then lightly fried....At Balaboosta, they are certainly creating an atmosphere for diners to become regulars." [THR]
The Bad News: A Menupages user thinks either the portions need to be bigger or the prices need to be smaller: "For the most part, everything was tasty—however for the price they charge the portions are INCREIDBLY small. For example, the Falafel Wrapped Albondigas for $9 features three very small meatballs. That is #$ a meatball?so not worth it. I would expect about 5 or 6 bite sized meatballs for that price. And $11 for the merguez?? it again was 3 small pieces. And the eggplant brushcetta was $9---for one small piece of bruschetta. The prices and portions just don’t fit the ambiance." [Menupages]
The Good but Possibly Deadly News: Even though Just Flourishing almost had an allergic reaction to the food, she loved it just the same: "The hummus was served un-combined as whole chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, roasted garlic, oil and herbs in a mortar and pestle with warm, fluffly herbed pita bread on the side and we were instructed to “mix up the hummus” ourselves. Amazing. BEST HUMMUS I have EVER had!...BF enjoyed his falafel and I was happily slurping up my delicious Mussels and broth..." [JF]
The Mediocre News: One Yelper is not totally impressed: "Great ambiance, good value and service. The food left us conflicted: our table of starters was excellent (loved the olives) but our entrees were mediocre across the board. The entrees were nothing that we couldn't prepare in our own kitchens. The couscous that accompanies the lamb literally tastes like sawdust. The DIY hummus is a gimmick that doesn't quite work." [Yelp]
The Most Excellent News: Another frequent Yelper thinks quite the opposite: "Excellent in every way. The lamb entree is the most tender and perfect lamb I've had since moving to the US. Make your own humus also a highlight. Can't wait to go back again - actually going for the second time in two weeks!" [Yelp]