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Bringing Tel Aviv To Southwark: Bala Baya

SEEN was positively salivating when she learned that this January coming, Bala Baya will be bringing a day in the life of Tel Aviv to Southwark’s Union Street Arches! Bala Baya will bring the raw creativity of Tel Aviv’s hip, all-day eateries to London. A sleek Bauhaus-inspired restaurant, this is the first standalone project from Israeli-born Head Chef Eran Tibi, formerly of Ottolenghi, Made in Camden and the critically acclaimed Zest@JW3.

Eran, whose vibrantly progressive cuisine is rooted in his mother’s Middle Eastern home cooking and generations of baking expertise, met co-founder and former creator of When Mac Met Cheese, Sammy Shonn, through a mutual fascination with the dynamic ‘White City’ from which Bala Baya derives inspiration. The restaurant is a poem to Tel Aviv, its countless cultures meeting in the city’s buzzing, bustling street life. This atmosphere and aesthetic is reproduced in Bala Baya’s interior architecture and design by multi-award winning designer, Afroditi Krassa, reflecting the particular Desert Bauhaus of the city – an urban, sun-drenched, modernist masterpiece.

Bala Baya’s downstairs, reminiscent of Tel Aviv’s cafe culture, will be a fast-paced, grab-and-go setting, including an open kitchen and bar, reminiscent of the world famous Bauhaus balcony of Tel Aviv’s Cinema Hotel. Upstairs will demonstrate finer finishes reflective of the more refined dinner menu, encompassing a 76 cover restaurant, allowing for tables of up to 16, fostering the convivial spirit at the heart of Bala Baya’s ethos.

A design-led project, the restaurant’s interiors have been carefully considered and perfectly planned to emulate Tel Aviv’s heady, sun-soaked early evenings. As the day cools, the palm shadows lengthen, and the city comes alive. Bala Baya have especially imported traditional breeze blocks from Israel as well as plants from the region to recreate these dusk-lit shapes and dancing shadows. As the afternoon draws to a close and the light of the setting sun shines through the glass-fronted restaurant, the space will slowly transform to an evening setting.

Bala Baya’s innovative daytime menu will be focused around a custom-made pitta oven, designed by Eran’s father. Transported from Tel Aviv, the oven will fill the restaurant with the aroma of freshly baked bread. The menu will range from in-house made breakfast pastries, to original and contemporary takes on the classic pitta pockets at lunch. Containing Eran’s stews and slow-cooked meats or his take on a fish finger sandwich, accompanied by the crunchiest of salads and homemade sauces, the pittas will demonstrate the honest balance of fine dining and informal eating at the heart of Tel Aviv’s gastronomy – where every meal features the soft and fluffy flat breads. A bespoke balance of flavours, Eran’s pittas are formed to create the perfect mouthful from start to finish. Fillings on offer will include Braised Lamb Neck Fillets with Quince, Shaved Pecorino, Lamb Jus and Fresh Salad. For those wishing to recreate Bala Baya’s cuisine at home, all downstairs items can be wrapped, boxed and bagged to take away.



Bala Baya’s evening menu will encapsulate sharing in its true form; this is a hands-on, hands-in approach to family-style dining focusing on the pure enjoyment of the best seasonal, organic ingredients. The evening menu will include dishes such as Salmon and Tahini (Salt Baked Blackened Salmon with Tahini, Picked Chilli, Tomato Pulp and Herb Oil) and Aubergine and Harissa Date Glaze (Tea Smoked Aubergine with Harissa and Date Glaze, Spicy Nut Crumb, Lime and Goats Curd). Desserts will include Chocolate and Hazelnut Babka (Babka with Smeared Chocolate and Hazelnut Spread, Plums, Pecan Praline and Crème Anglaise).


Ali Reynolds, winner of 2015’s Diageo Reserve World Class UK Bartender of the Year, has curated Bala Baya’s innovative cocktail list, using unique produce from Israel’s singular landscape and Mediterranean climate, signature serves will include a Tomato and Cucumber Negroni(Tomato and Cucumber Gin, Cocchi Torino, Campari with a Feta Garnish), the Truffle Sour (Johnnie Walker Black, Honey Syrup, Lemon and Truffle Oil) and a Pink Grapefruit Julep (Cynar Pink Grapefruit Juice, Grapefruit Sherbert, Mint).

The restaurant will also feature London’s very first Gazoz Bar. Serving daily blends of this refreshing, homemade, fruit-filled sparkling botanical drink, [that has been a firm favourite of Tel Aviv’s residents since the 1920’s and is now praised as the West’s answer to Kombucha], flavours will include Plum with Fig and Lemon Thyme, Clementine and Lemongrass and Watermelon and Red Basil.


SEEN looks forward to this innovative addition to London’s diverse restaurant scene. Definitely something to look forward to after Christmas.

Bala Baya
Arch 25
Old Union Yard Arches
229 Union Street