Baboush’s doors opened in West Village on Monday, August 8th. Three days later, I was there carousing with my vegan drinking crew on their plush couches sipping Sexy Drinks and enjoying one of the best Mediterranean meals I’ve had in quite awhile.
All of the Spreads & Olives are vegan, and so is the pita bread. I am a huge fan of olives, hummus and babaganoush, but I opted to start with the Moroccan Sweet Tomato spread. This dish is penned a sweet tomato spread with cinnamon, garlic, orange water, sesame seeds and almonds.
Some of my cohorts were disturbed at the mention of sweet and cinnamon in a tomato spread, but the first bite evaporated their fears. This tasty spread was a perfect balance of sweet and spice. The tomatoes were cooked to perfection: they spread easily on the (verified vegan) pita with the small spoon provided. The cinnamon tickled the tongue at the finish without overpowering the tangy garlic and the acidic orange.
My favorite drink of the night was definitely the Casablanca Mint Tea. Again, the first taste was a delightful surprise. This concoction of vodka, green tea, fresh mint, orange blossom water and lemon is neither too sweet nor too tart. It has the look and refreshing quality of lemonade and is one of those dangerous “date drinks” (you know, the kind that taste so yummy and alcohol free that you toss back two too many before you realize it was a bad idea). I spied a Blackberry Seduction being delivered and put that on my must list, right next to East Med Tamarind and Pine-Cardamom.
From the Street Plates, we tried the Pomegranate Tabouleh, Falafel and Basmati Rice. Tabouleh is one of my favorite snacks and quite simple, but surprisingly not good everywhere you go. Baboush does it up right. The blend was crisp and fresh, not laden with too much oil and lemon juice.
The pomegranate added a refreshing kick of summer savor. Generally, falafel is one of those tasteless standby dishes for the veggie when there’s no tofu or other protein source available and one of the things my omni friends envision when referring to cardboard flavored vegan food.
The Falafel at Baboush borders on divine and completely destroys the cardboard rap. When the plate was served I was afraid it was going to be another workout (you know you have totally battled to cut or chew some falafel that was fried to hard as a rock) and culinary disappointment. Shockingly, my fork descended through the dark, crisp pan fried orbs like a hot knife through Earth Balance. The core was a minty green fluff, evidencing the generous use of cilantro, rather than the boring beige that one would expect. The Tahini-Lemon Sauce is vegan, we asked three people because we didn’t believe it was yogurt free.
This was the first time I had an enjoyable falafel dish, one that I would recommend out of flavor rather than nutritional yield. Even after all of the other dishes blowing me out of the water, I didn’t have high expectation for the Basmati Rice. It’s rice. Pretty blah in my book and not something I order unless it’s the minor player in a dish. I should have known it was going to be better than marginal. For rice, it was very good. There was no skimping on the saffron, the golden raisins and toasted almonds rounded the corner and gave the rice flavor.
The core was a minty green fluff, evidencing the generous use of cilantro…
I already have my next visit and selections planned. After drooling over the Moutabal Du Jardin as it was delivered to another patron, I was checking my calendar for my next free night for a return expedition. This is a gorgeous dish of eggplant, Anaheim chilies, tomatoes, green onion, zucchini, pine nuts, and tahini & pomegranate molasses drizzle served in the head of an artichoke. OMFG is all I can say to you about that delight. The Fatoush is also on my must list for the next experience. Billed as romaine hearts, pita croutons, cucumber, radish, pear tomatoes (YUM), and sumac lemon dressing (you will just have to nix the feta). I am hoping it will be placed on my “salads too good to be called salads” list.
The menu is not solid, yet, according to one of the owners. It’s possible that some changes will be made based on the comments and sales. Nearly half of the menu (10 out of 21 items) is vegan, and I’m hoping that part of the menu does not change.