Feeling uninspired by Whiteladies Road? Fancy swapping the familiar sights of the triangle for a different dining experience? If yes, then Easton is the answer. Unbeknownst to many, a quick train ride from Clifton Down will take you to this colourful neighbourhood, considered by some as ‘Bristol’s best-kept foodie secret’. Home to a variety of independent knock-outs, you’ll find the beloved Thali, stylish Scandi Dela, New York pizzeria G. Bros, and Bristol’s coolest mezze palace, Baba Ganoush.
Veggies and vegans rejoice, this place is a game changer. Specializing in authentic Middle Eastern grub, Baba Ganoush serve colossal falafel and halloumi wraps, fresh colourful salads and mezze platters. With a strong emphasis on community, Baba Ganoush treats you as their most treasured customer, whether it’s your first or hundredth visit. With a flamboyant showcase of the city’s coolest landmarks covering the walls, large leafy plants, and a gnarled tree-trunk table, the place certainly upholds a unique appeal.
Starting off with drinks, and things are kept things fresh with a range of homemade juices, smoothies, and mint teas. We opted for a juice fusion of oranges, mangoes, carrots, strawberries, and lemons. Recognizing almost all five ingredients, this tantalizing blend served as a deliciously smooth and creamy health-kick.
For food, the vegan mezze platter was on order: stuffed vine leaves, spicy potatoes, kaushari, falafels, tomato salad, pickled turnips, its famed baba ganoush and mousakat batinjan (aubergine cooked with onions, tomatoes, peppers, and garlic). Generously served with a large portion of soft, doughy khobez bread, this spread is truly fit for a king.
The kaushari, a surprisingly rich lentil based dish cooked with rice, cumin, and fried onions, drizzled with tahini and chilli sauce, was undeniably more-ish and possibly the standout element to the mezze. The large falafels proved crisp, crunchy, and tasted far more exciting than the falafels of their mezze rivals Eat a Pitta. The electrifying pink of the pickled turnips elevated the platter to the highest standard; it’s hard to fault a dish which offers such vibrancy, with the tantalizing flavours to match.
A marriage of colours, textures and lip-smacking flavours, we were both pleasantly surprised by the sheer scale presented on a single plate – a delicious alternative to its meaty brethren. All the ingredients tasted fresh, with each mezze offering individual appeal whilst complementing the others. Given its remarkable quantity, I had little hopes I’d polish off the plate. However, proving too delicious to forsake, I finished it all, feeling comfortably full and certainly satisfied.
When compared to Mezze Palace on Small Street, Cotham’s Falafel King or the ubiquitous Eat a Pitta, this place may just hold the upper hand. Perhaps the only true contender is Biblos in Stokes Croft, who arguably serve the tastiest falafel in the South West.
Prices are decent, with individual mezzes ranging from £3.50-£5.00. The platters, however, priced £9.95 per person, is far better valued and certainly worth the cost given the variety and generous quantities.
After my visit, it was unsurprising to find floods of positive reviews; it seems to be an established favourite already among the regulars lucky enough to know. Bristol’s contest in vegetarian cuisine is an undeniably competitive one, though it feels as though Baba Ganoush is running well in their own league. In a city celebrated for its communal, diverse and creative approach to dining, Baba Ganoush fits like a glove. No tricks or gimmicks here, just honest, healthy, great-tasting food.