Bubala is a Yiddish term that loosely translates to ‘darling’.
And this place is about to become the bubala of East London’s restaurant scene.
It comes to you from a duo with serious restaurant pedigree: running the front of house is Marc Summers (fresh from his role as the GM of Berber & Q), while the kitchen is headed up by chef Helen Graham, who’s manned the pans at such Middle Eastern titans as The Palomar, The Barbary and The Good Egg.
And after a year of sell-out pop ups & supper clubs, their Bubala has finally found its first permanent home on Commercial Street in Spitalfields.
They’ve taken over the artfully distressed dining room that was once Gul & Sepoy, keeping those beautifully rustic peach plastered walls, and lightening things up with sweeps of aqua across the ceiling. The bar’s switched sides; now a fully-functioning dining counter topped with a quirky terrazzo made with twinkling foil sweet wrappers. Behind is a swathe of forest green tiling and a bar that looks almost as good as it tastes – a handpicked selection of unusual wines (red, white, pink & orange); brass taps for still and sparkling water; and an attentive barkeep shaking up plum & raisin spritzes and delightfully named Bubalacoladas (with sherry, house-made pineapple ferment, and a thick wedge of strikingly aromatic foam).
The food is heavenly, and for everyone. Meat-eaters won’t notice there’s no meat. Vegetarians will enjoy the novel experience of being confounded by choice. Each and every dish here has been prepared, very visibly, with love.
To leave feeling comfortably stuffed, you’ll want to order about eight dishes between two; four from each half of the menu. What ensues is a train of delicacies: Laffa flatbread from Dalston’s Ararat is lightly dusted with za’atar; warm, doughy and bristling with oil on the edges, crunchy in the centre. It’s the perfect partner for mopping up the house hummus, slicked with a languorous layer of burnt butter.
Then there’s the fried aubergines, silky soft and dotted with date syrup and zhoug, and a stand-out fried halloumi dish. Bathed in black seed honey (used for centuries in Persian medicine), the outside is charred and crispy; the inside a surprising pocket of pliant, shreddable cheese that doesn’t fight back the way halloumi usually does. And it’s made right on the fringes of London by Kupros.
Scaling up, there’s ful medames (a delicious fava bean & pesto dish from Cairo) to be ravenously scooped up with Helen’s malawach, a Yemenite Jewish pan cake that’s thin, flaky and studded with nigella seeds. It’s the sumptuous foil to the fresh and colourful fattoush; the lime-slicked baby gem or the crunchy romanesco. We don’t need to tell you to get the confit potato latkes too, because once you lay eyes on them, you won’t be satisfied until you’ve tried them.
Welcoming, unpretentious, and thrumming with flavour, Bubala has come in swinging to Spitalfields’ food scene.
Long may it reign.
NOTE: Bubala is open Monday 6-10pm, and Tues-Sat 12-3pm & 6-10.30pm. To book a table, and find out more, head HERE.
Bubala | 65 Commercial Street, E1 6BD
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