The Fresser

Bringing home Bubala

We went all gooey when this baby arrived at our door


About six months prior to the first lockdown, I ate my best meal of 2019.

With the events of the last year, I have not eaten as well since. The food at Bubala, a tiny, vegetarian eatery on Commercial Street, was unexpectedly punch-in-the-face, technicolour taste-tastic.

I’m not sure why I was surprised. Perhaps it was the unassuming dining room — in trendy Spitalfields. But every mouthful was filled with different tastes and textures. Helen Graham and Marc Summers had produced an outstanding menu.

I was not alone. Pretty well every food critic walked away with a smile on their face.

Helen and Marc must have been on a high. Until that irritating global pandemic forced them to close their doors. I may only have dreamed of tasting their food again, but they’re not the types to be beaten by a nasty virus.

They have done what many in hospitality have done to stay afloat and launched themselves into the delivery market.

And no one is too far from uber cool East London: the beauty of this is that it is delivered — by a company called dispatch (geddit?) — to your door in kit form anywhere in the UK! 

The chilled components of your meze meal are labelled and packed a cool box. They arrive ready for you to provide finishing touches and plate up. It was so super simple.

First up a chilled course — pickles; thick, chewy laffa bread that I heated as instructed; labneh that with confit garlic and za’atar to top it with. Last up, smooth, creamy hummus topped with chilli oil and chickpeas. Mr P, who had not been lucky enough to visit Bubala, was already swooning over the flavours.

The hot course — with full instructions — included falafel with its own bed of tahina sauce; glazed carrots on spiced, whipped cauliflower with spiced apricot salsa; the most divine halloumi slathered in sticky, black seed honey — every bit as good as I’d been served at the restaurant.

Another memory from my 2019 meal were the most un-latke-ish latkes I’d ever eaten. Beyond bubba’s wildest dreams — more a fancy, mille-feuille-style affair; layers of tender, buttery potato that turned to golden, salty crispness in my frying pan. The toum — a Middle Eastern, garlic dip — that came with them was addictively delicious. I spooned the leftovers straight from the tub over the next day.

The final touch were indulgent, salted caramel truffles that (cliché alert) really did melt in the mouth.

Probably one of the best restaurant meals at home that I’ve eaten during lockdown.

It’s on the January menu on the dispatch website and at £50 for two, is a steal. Order it. Now.

If you want more instant gratification, Bubala now has, what they describe as a cheeky little sister — Bubie — in Kentish Town.

Now those with a bissel of Yiddish will know that bubala translates as baby and bubie as grandma… But I love Helen and Marc’s food so much, I’ll forgive them that slip.

Cheer yourself up this January – bring in from Bubala or her Bubie

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