I have to say that I really do love my friends. I have a particular group of girls from school who I grew up with and now everyone either has jobs, getting married (just me haha), or moving out of London. It has become a little difficult to find the time to meet up, but when we do finally manage to get together, I can honestly say I have a great time with them. So, feeling a little needy for my friends last week, plus needing some new blog material, I managed to gather a few of them up and off we went.
Babaji Pide is a fairly new concept that has been coined up by Alan Yau (think Wagamamas, Busaba Eathai, Hakkasan, Yauatcha etc. – yup, him!) and has a home on the corner of Shaftesbury Avenue. The main focus of the menu happens to be the pide (pee-deh) which is somewhat similar to pizza but just the turkish version, and seeing as I have enjoyed Alan Yau’s previous restaurants, I was really excited to check out what Babaji Pide had to offer.
Of course, we ran a little late but reached there around 9pm and were seated upstairs straight away with no problem. The room was buzzing and quite loud, but we managed to hunt down a waiter to take our order…
I was the loser who stuck to water whilst the other more sensible diners, opted for the lemonade that was served in tiny glass bottles. It was a refreshing sweet start to our yummy dinner ahead of us!
Creamy hummus that has been topped with olive oil and scatterings of sesame seeds. The hummus is not completely smooth but instead has the occasional subtle, crunch from the sesame seeds which give a nice nutty taste to each mouthful.
We had ordered the house bread for hummus dunking purposes, and what arrived was a huge flatbread that was piping hot and soft.
The pide arrived sliced up with gooey cheese and a shred of beef pastrami on each slice. The bread base was baked well so that it was able to withstand all the cheese without going soggy and we could just scoop up a slice in our hands with no mess at all! The Turkish cheese, kasar, made a delightful, creamy change to the usual cheddar or mozzarella used, and the pastrami was slightly crunchy. Although all the components were great individually, the overall thought on the dish was that it was pretty basic and could have done with either more pastrami shreds on each slice, or just a general punch of flavour to the pide.
This was the better pide of the two with generous scatterings of flavourful lamb mince, tomatoes and onions. I feel maybe the tomatoes and onions could have done with a little more of a kick in terms of flavour, but overall a good dish especially when paired with a squeeze of lemon or dunking into one of their house sauces.
Four lamb chops arrived to the table with two bowls of red and green harissa. The lamb cutlets had been grilled in such a way that they were very slightly pink in the middle but still maintained a good amount of moisture. The meat had a nice char from the grill, which added a decent smokiness to each bite, but the flavour was really brought out when dipping the cutlet into both the harissas (a spicy pepper sauce). Depending on what taste you preferred, the green harissa provided a sharp, spicy flavour whilst the red one was more toned down with just a little touch of sweetness.
Albeit sounding simple, the chicken wings, which had just a touch of red chilli flakes, were actually quite moreish and cooked so that the meat was moist with a slight crisp char on the outside. The accompanying butter beans had been boiled until soft and then doused in lemon juice, coriander, and chopped red onions; these were surprisingly enjoyable and I couldn’t stop eating them!
One of my friends thought she would be a little fancy and go for the poached pears but on arrival, she felt a little disheartened at what she saw on the plate. Who knows what she thought would come but I thoroughly enjoyed each and every bite. The soft pears had a deliciously light but sharp taste, and the accompanying creamy and grainy ricotta cheese was quite enjoyable on its own as well as with the pear.
The only Turkish element of this dessert was that it resembled a baklava but I have to say on behalf of all of us there, we devoured this dessert. Sweet. creamy vanilla ice cream had been sandwiched between two gooey, yet crispy, wafers and dipped in crushed pistachios – yup, there was nothing authentic about the dish but we enjoyed the sweet ending to our meal!
The restaurant was packed at 9pm on a Thursday night with friends and work colleagues catching a late dinner. Just like some of Alan Yau’s previous restaurants, you cannot make a reservation here so my suggestion would be to avoid peak hours (and maybe weekends) if you’re not willing to wait in a queue – we were quite lucky that we were able to waltz in as a group of 4 and get a table straight away!
The wait staff were hit and miss, mostly a miss, with one waitress completely ignoring me three times, a waiter who was on his phone whenever possible, and one waiter who didn’t put in our order for Turkish tea until we questioned the whereabouts of our drinks 15 minutes later. The rest of the staff seemed to have their hands full, rushing around the restaurant, taking orders, and cleaning up for the next groups of diners.
The total bill amounted to £72.38 so we paid around £18.25 each including drinks and service. For the amount of food we ordered plus the fact that this is located right bang in central London, I thought this was quite reasonable. We left the restaurant feeling completely satisfied with our meal and none of the greasy heavyness associated with eating pizza! Here’s to a great night with good food and awesome company – you guys are the best!