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Ballaboosta


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The Home Mistress Ballaboosta

Published by Michael Dib

Like dining in Lebanon

Todays restaurant is going to be a hidden gem found a bit far from the most commercial eatery streets of Adelaide: Ballaboosta. To get to this restaurant you will need to travel to the South Eastern part of Halifax street. It is basically found on the South eastern part of the city. Getting here is pretty straightforward due to the planned nature of Adelaide’s architecture where streets simply stretch from one side of the city to the other uninterrupted except for large parks that act as roundabouts.

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(Source:https://shesaidwhat.co/2015/12/08/ballaboosta-289-halifax-street-adelaide/)

It has recently gotten a bit more difficult to travel from the North eastern part to the south eastern corner as preparations for car racing has been put up with concrete walls temporarily erected. So if you find yourself going from the Northeast to southeast then either go around the eastern part of the city or travel down through Pultney street on the very eastern edge of Rundle mall before turning a right to Halifax street.

I only recently found the existence of this restaurant from a friend of mine. Ballaboosta is a moderately priced Lebanese restaurant with very tasting food. This restaurant prides itself for using high quality local ingredients. When I eat out I tend to mainly stick to Asian or Indian eateries as I can’t resist a good spiced up or herb-fuelled foodfest. However, this restaurant is a happy exception.

The look

This small restaurant is able to house its customers in its cozy interior with walls lined with quotes of what it means to be a good restaurant. They also put up recommendations which include tips such as that if you’re gluten free then we have alternative ingredients to replace the iconic puffy Lebanese bread that is served here. The outside area is flanked with an open road to the right and high grass walls to the left. What's marvelous about this location is that while its on a relatively major street going from North to South less than a fifteen walk to the west, this area is pretty quiet. Not many cars travel through this part of Halifax street which allows you to enjoy your meal outdoors without pesky cars shooting their exhaust and noisiness everywhere.

The food

Drinks

In the inside area there will be two unisex bathrooms. One for customers and one for special needs one. If you walk right through the entrance you will have the bar and counter located to your right. This compactly stocked counter is where you’ll be able to pay for your orders. However, regular orders will be taken from you by the white shirted and black aproned waiters and waitresses. The counter also has a hollow and glassed area where you can see many different types of desserts of all sorts. There are knafeh, cheesecake, Toblerone cakes and a few more delicious options. I’ve had most of them and enjoyed them thoroughly. The knafeh is baked in the oven until perfection where its then doused in syrup and covered in pistachios. They are served hot and ready to melt in your mouth. There is also the Asthalia pudding which is one based on rosewater, syrup and is mainly a sort of milk pudding. It is one of my favourite desserts in this restaurant. Directly on top of this area there is a tray of Baklavas to pick from.

Further down the counter you will spot the Pizza and food pickup area. Here, you can watch the chefs prepare some juicy pizzas before tossing them into the wood-fired brick oven. On the wooden table in front of this area will be where all the orders will be deposited by the kitchen for the waiters to take. Farther past this there will be the kitchen. This tightly packed area usually has between two to three Lebanese women that cook many of the traditional meals. It is also where a lot of the alcohol and white wines that are stored can be found.

Now, enough about the place itself, let us talk about the main part of this restaurant: the food. Lets first attack the drinks. There are many different options for wines that vary in quality. However, the cheapest provided ones are still tasty and great to take alongside your meals. You can get freshly brewed coffees from this restaurant and even order a Lebanese style coffee which is boiled in a Middle eastern pot. If you’re looking for something with less strength then I recommend you grab a chai after your meal for the taste and quality. Or, if you’re looking to escape the Australian heat then you could order the freshly squeezed orange juice or the Affogato. The latter is an ice-cream based drink that is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth and keep heat stroke at bay.There bar also stocks different types of spirits you could enjoy ranging from Gins and Whiskeys. The beers sold vary by three different types. You have the Hawkers IPA, Hawkers Pale Ale and the iconic Lebanese Almaza Pilsner. They also have a ‘Lemon Cooler’ style beer if you’re looking for something sweeter. It is quite a popular option. Let's move towards the meals. Before we get into it though, it is worth noting that notifying whether you’re sharing the food with your mates or not is quite important. It will affect the presentation and the amount of ingredients provided in the dish.Don’t put too much thought into it though. The waiter or waitress will ask you about it.

Mezze

If you’re looking for some entrees then you will have a wide selection to choose from. In Lebanese cuisine it is quite common to have many different rounds of entrees or simply all of them at the same time before the main meal is provided. It is truly a food Bonanza. One of the most popular entrees (or Mezze) are the dips. If you choose the drips you will have the option to eat the Hummus, Baba ganoush (eggplant with Tahini), Labneh and Zaatar. With this dish you will be given a few puffed Lebanese breads to enjoy your dips with.

Now, be prepared to be amazed. The next bit will focus on the restaurant’s ‘Street Mezze’. It is not uncommon (according to a waiter) for a customer to simply order everything in this section for a diverse Lebanese meal. This is actually common back in Lebanon as we would have many of these entrees together before we dug into the main meal. I won't go into all of them as they have quite a selection, rather I will talk about the most iconic ones which I recommend you try and those that I have eaten. Let us start off with an iconic and favourite of mine back in Lebanon: the falafel. They don’t serve these wrapped up in a flatbread but rather on the side. The falafels come in a trio with a side of tahini and a signature puffy flat bread. I recalled having one of these and was pleasantly surprised by the richness in texture and flavour from the meal.

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(Source:http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/lifestyle/sa-lifestyle/simon-wilkinson-reviews-ballaboosta/news-story/78d71d0480721857eb820a164715ef90)

Grilled Halloumi is another great option to pick. It is quite healthy as it is cheese that is only slightly grilled. It has a drizzle of olive oil and some cracked pepper spread out around it. Within it there is a small salad to enjoy your choice with. If you are looking for something relatively light (even though its cheese), then this is a good option. Flambeed sausages is another great option if you’re keen for a shot of delicious meat. This meal comes along with lemon and also doused in olive oil. Back home we would eat them often but in low quantities as they are quite rich. We call them Sujuc. Although, as marketing goes it is probably a good idea to make it easy to pronounce and even easier to decipher what it is. Some people tend to be quite picky and closed minded when it comes to these sort of things. If you order this then I recommend having something else with it. A salad would be a good choice. I wouldn’t recommend a falafel as the oil from both might be a bit much for some. Although, they make a killer combo after a long day.

Lastly, Kebbi is another traditional Lebanese meat that I highly recommend you try. They come with a dash of hummus and a pita bread. For those that are not aware, Kebbi is lamb and beef meat rolled in wheat dumplings that are prepared to have a thick skin. They are pretty tasty. Back in Lebanon we would have serving after serving of this dish. Its proper good and we would usually have them with an assortment of sauces. Although, hummus is the traditional favourite. If you’re looking for a cheaper variant or do not like lamb then simply fill the whole thing with beef.

Soups

There are also two different types of soups to choose from. A personal favourite of mine is the Hearty Lentil soup (which is a more liquid version of the Lebanese lentil dish ‘Mjadra’). However, it seems that the Moroccan style Pumpkin soup is the more common option.

Breakfasts

There is also the breakfast option which is surprisingly open as late as five in the afternoon. Another thing worth noting before moving on is that this restaurant is very adept on meeting the requirements and alternatives of gluten free and vegan restaurant goers. So there is no need to feel limited.

There are four main breakfasts to choose from. The first and most commonly ordered is the Ballaboosta breakfast. It could be the name or perhaps the flavours (or both) that attract so many people try this one out for the first time. This platter is a delectable option filled with ham, cheese, salad, an omelette and the puffy flatbread that is often served with many meals here. The vegetarian breakfast is another good option to try out which offers an omelette with a divine combination of different veggies to savour. One of my favourites is the sausage breakfast. This hearty meal provides the standard omelette with spiced sausages and a salad. A great option if you’re feeling particularly hungry. Finally, there is the mediterranean omelette. I haven’t tried this one yet although it looks absolutely mouth-watering.

They also serve Bruschettas if you’re keen to easily share your meal with your dinner partner(s). If you’re less of an omelette and more of a fried egg person then you could get the wood fired baked eggs that have been prepared in the venue’s brick oven. This option comes with mushrooms, herbs and many different salad ingredients to give a fully satisfying breakfast.

Last but not least we have my two favourite breakfast options due to taste and nostalgia, the Zaatar and cheese and Zaatar and  vegetables in flatbread. In Lebanon they would be called Manakeesh. While they aren’t as big as the ones back home, they make up for it in raw flavour from all the spices and high quality ingredient. Definitely try the Zaatar and cheese as its my top pick of the two.

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(Source:http://www.onthechoppingboard.com/2015/09/ballaboosta-not-just-good-homemaker.html)

Two other flatbreads (or Manakeesh) which is available all day around is the garlic bread and the more popular Ballaboosta meat (which is known as lahme bajin in Lebanon). The latter is a very common option back in Lebanon along with the Cheese flatbread and the Zaatar flatbread. These three make the base holy trinity. The meat is also quite rich so you wont need to combine it with cheese. Although, it is very common to combine it with vegetables. They don’t openly offer this option but they do accommodate it. I know as I did try it.

Salads

I won't get too into the salads as I had not eaten any of the three. Although one of them is worth talking about. They offer the warm chicken salad, the Mediterranean salad and the Fattoush. The Fattoush is a signature Lebanese salad that is often ordered as a side with many mains. The salad has a plethora of different ingredients to give off its striking taste. However, my favourite part is the toasted pita crisps. These bits have been turned into a brown and rigid piece of goodness that is full of flavour and heavily complements the salad.

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(Source:http://www.onthechoppingboard.com/2015/09/ballaboosta-not-just-good-homemaker.html)

Pizzas

While the restaurant specialises in Lebanese cuisine, it is also possible to order Greek and Italian style meals. For example, there are several different types of pizzas you could order. Some are the standard Italian types such as Napolitana, although there is the Queenslander with its iconically Australian taste. I only once ordered the pizza although it was pretty divine. I grabbed the Melanzane which had the standard pizza ingredients along with capiscum, eggplant, artichoke, goats cheese and much more. It was an earthly experience. If you’re looking for mains then I have to recommend two of their great dishes.

Mains

The first one is the shish taouk (chicken skewers). This dish serves two mouthwatering chicken skewers served hot from the wood-fired oven. This is by far my favourite main to enjoy and one I will more likely than not order whenever I visit this place. It comes with a plate of Fattoush to tame the wild chicken taste. It's a killer of a choice. I recalled how I had been skeptical at first as I was used to eating this stuff back home. Comparing this to something made overseas with different ingredients (the meats in different countries taste different depending on the landscape the animals graze on). However, one of the waiters was Lebanese and highly recommended that I try this one out. I decided to give it a shot and was not disappointed. It's a filling meal so could be eaten as is or with a side. After that there is a kafta which is served in the same way as the shish taouk. Fattoush salad and all.

If you want a fully filling and healthy meal then I would recommend two options. There is the fasoulia (beans) which is served in sauce along with a healthy heaping of rice. This combo comes in a large bowl. I recall eating this twice and was surprised as to how full I felt quite fast. The reason for this is that the content of the beans are very filling along with the rice. It simply expands in your stomach. Another rice based dish is the lubieh. This dish is mostly based on green beans and different vegetables covered in rice. Its a great option to take if you're looking for a healthy but filling option. They also do takeaways. So if you are unable to finish your meal then worry not. You'll still be able to take some of this delicious goodness back home with you.

Hopefully this guide has been useful for those visiting Adelaide or doing an Erasmus here. The city itself has many different types of foods to offer although they are not always the easiest or most straightforward to find. Sometimes you have to do a bit of digging to get access to good quality and exotic foods. Happy eating!

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