Restaurants, Middle Eastern
5 out of 5 stars

Sexy and delicious dishes that will transport you to Jerusalem for an hour or two.

A stone's throw from Colette on Rue Saint Honoré, the Tuileries gardens, and Rue de Rivoli, Balagan's location couldn't be any more French if it tried. An unusual setting to do something completely un-French... The latest project from the Experimental Group (after Fish Club, Beef Club Ballroom etc) is heading in a very different direction: to Jerusalem. Headed by two top Isralien chefs behind Machne-Yehuda restaurant in East Jerusalem and The Palomar in London - Assaf Granit and Uri Navon, and new talent Dan Yosha, Balagan is a new project attached to Hotel Renaissance Paris-Vendôme

The name meaning "beautiful mess" in Hebrew, the space certainly is beautiful with decoration created by the woman behind all Experimental Group's projects - Dorothée Meilichzon. Grey marble, powder pink fabrics, triangular ceramic tiling, copper and wood - it's diverse and rich, just like the country's fabric.

Onto the dishes. A vibrant fusion of Moroccan, French and Israeli cusine, the emphasis is on sharing plates but not those with a dainty fork - this is a gluttonous dipping, spongeing, soaking kind of sharing. The messier the better. Stone baked bread (described as something between a focaccia and a donut) great for plunging into tahini with sour spice and hot pesto from Yemen; beefy Morrocan oysters with asparagus, radish and onions that zing and refresh.

The dishes are truly sexy: colourful and oozing with flavour that is bold and inviting. The Damascus beef tartare is exceptional, half cooked and half raw with pepper coulis and tahini. Slow-cooked shredded chicken with tapenade, yoghurt, tomatoes sitting in its juices on a bed of thin pitta. Tuna tartare with a blackened crust, garlic yoghurt and ginger. The wows just keep coming. 

And if you have room for dessert (and we strongly suggest you save some) big groups are treated to veritable theatrics. The lights are turned low, music turned up and chefs paint table settings with watermelon, feta ice cream, semola cake, date honey, raspberries. The epitome of a beautiful mess. 

Wine offerings include robust offerings from Syria, Iran and Lebanon; and of course, the cocktails are on point. The menu changes weekly so there's even more excuses to go back ASAP.

By: Alice White Walker


Venue name: Balagan
Address: 9 rue d'Alger
Opening hours: Open daily 7am - 11pm
Transport: Metro: Palais Royale Musée du Louvre
Price: Amuse-bouche from €5, cold sharing dishes from €11, hot sharing dishes from €21-28, desserts €8-10