Time Out says
Friendly warning! We're working hard to be accurate. But these are unusual times, so please check that venues remain open.
Please note, Baba is currently closed. Time Out Eating & Drinking editors, Feb 2017.
Tucked down a grimy side alley opposite Peckham Rye station, the late Ali Baba Juice Shack was a cultish SE15 institution. Now, its owners have upgraded to a bricks-and-mortar spot on nearby Blenheim Grove. Well, sort of: lovingly stripped-down would be a kind way of describing the space; flagrantly sparse a more honest one.
But no matter. When there are inventive cocktails on the menu, a honed selection of Levantine food zipping out of the kitchen and avante garde cellist Arthur Russell on the stereo, we’re more than happy to tolerate a sea of plywood (the grocery-style veg-box display behind the juicing station is a nice touch though).
Geed up by a decent G&T – with ‘Baba spices’ – and a glass of Duoro red, we ordered everything on the menu. It was all excellent. A plate of pickles – fennel, mushrooms, cucumber, garlic, those lurid kebab-shop peppers – were zingy and plentiful; a bowl of olives was elevated to greatness by piles of coriander seeds and dried bay; and pasta-like giant couscous with parsley, whipped feta and pomegranate was texturally banging, a tabbouleh on ’roids.
Baba ghanoush was a glorious, smoky mess: half a charcoal-grilled aubergine, slathered in lip-smackingly sweet-savoury tahini and sprinkled with toasted almonds. Best of all was a crispy, chewy flatbread topped with lamb shoulder, tart pickled garlic, creamy labneh balls and a truly poky, piquant hot sauce. In the canon of killer kebabs, this would be up there.
If I’ve one reservation, it’d be that the food lacked a bit of citrusy zing to cut through the persistent punchy flavours – a nashi pear salad with sumac came close, but no cigar – and was, maybe, a little one-note. But dammit, when the note is this pitch-perfect – and so reasonably priced – you’d be a jerk to complain.