Test Driving Bubala - a Hot Dinners readers' favourite in Spitalfields

bubala restaurant review london spitalfieldsThe front part of Bubala - a combo of counter dining and tables.

So what do we need to know about Bubala?

This pop up turned permanent spot is the debut restaurant of Marc Summers, previously General Manager at Berber & Q. He's joined here by Head Chef Helen Graham (The Palomar, The Barbary and The Good Egg) for this Middle Eastern vegetarian restaurant, "inspired by Tel Aviv's modern cafes". It also topped the charts for Hot Dinners readers who voted it their best new restaurant opening of 2019.

Where exactly is it?

You'll find it just south of Spitalfields Market on Commercial Street. The nearest tubes are probably Liverpool Street or Aldgate East and it's a short walk from Shoreditch High Street on the overground.

Where should we meet friends for a drink first?

It's halfway between The Ten Bells and The Culpeper both of which are lovely pubs and easy recommendations. Or if it's cocktails you're after, 46 & Mercy nearby is also a good shout.

So what kind of food is it?

Lots of people have told us they didn't realise Bubala was a vegetarian restaurant until about halfway through their meal. The menu is so good, you definitely won't miss that meat if you're a carnivore or flexitarian. Dishes are also marked on the menu if they're vegan or non-gluten free. And anything asterisked can be made vegan if requested. There are a couple of snacks, but you're in general small and larger dish territory. So it's best to order a few as you go along.

Here's what we had:

bubala restaurant review london spitalfieldsLaffa flatbread (£2) served with labneh, confit garlic and za'atar (£5) and hummus with burnt butter and pinenuts (£6.50). You'll be tempted to order more of that flatbread to scoop up every last bit of the dips, but maybe hold back because you'll want to eat all of what's coming...

bubala restaurant review london spitalfieldsShitake and oyster mushroom skewers, marinated in tamari, coriander seed and maple (£2.50 each)

bubala restaurant review london spitalfieldsFried aubergine with zhoug and date syrup (£7) - a vegan dish and one we'd seen a lot of pics of on Instagram. It didn't disappoint.

bubala restaurant review london spitalfieldsConfit potato latkes with Aleppo chilli - we can't help ordering confit potatoes if they're on the menu and these fried versions came with the best toum (a Lebanese garlic sauce) (£5.50)

bubala restaurant review london spitalfieldsRomanesco cauliflower with smoked tomato and ras el hanout freekeh - a standout vegan dish that not only looked spectacular but tasted great too. We wiped the dish clean.

Room for dessert?

The two of us were encouraged to order all three desserts and we were glad we did. In addition to three lovely, squidgy salted caramel truffles (£4) we also had:

bubala restaurant review london spitalfieldsCoconut and cardamon sorbet with sumac roast plums (£5.50) - a light dessert with all manner of layered flavours. Lovely but not as good as...

bubala restaurant review london spitalfieldsTahini, date and tangerine ice-cream (£4.50) - every bit as gorgeous as that description sounds.

What about drinks?

We were ploughing through Dry January on our visit, and we really enjoyed one of the non-alcoholic drinks on offer, a delicious sparkling plum tonic (£4).

But if you were going to drink, there are some cracking sounding cocktails on the list, including the wonderfully-named Saline Dion - featuring Maldon sea salt, freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice and combined with fresh lime and agave syrup for balance and topped up with Prosecco. 

As for wine, it's a very accessible and shortish list - with about 50% of bottles in the £20s and £30s range. There's an interesting sounding Txakoli Rosado we'd like to have a go at next time (£40).

Overall thoughts

Clearly Hot Dinners readers are a discerning bunch. After our dinner, we quite understand why this is such a popular place (it was heaving on a Tuesday evening in January). It's cosy, friendly and serving up the kind of food Londoners want a lot of more of nowadays, plant-based but with none of that lab-grown stuff. It's all about great vegetarian and vegan food where taste is all.

Hot Dinners were guests of Bubala. Prices correct at time of publication


More about Bubala

Where is it? 65 Commercial Street, Spitalfields, London E1 6BD

How to book? Book online

Find out more: Visit their website or find them on Instagram @bubala_london.


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