Babka is a Middle-Eastern restaurant in Budapest named after the Ashkenazi Jewish bready cake originating in Eastern Europe. Perhaps the restaurant's moniker is a hat-tip to the neighborhood, which is home to much of Budapest’s middle-class Jewish residents. Babka has a cozy and dimly lit interior — complete with vintage furnishings and hardwood floors — that will make you want to enter.
The Israeli and Middle Eastern dishes, unfortunately, often fall short. On my most recent visit, the hummus (€5) was dry; the dolma (€5), grape leaves stuffed with rice, flavorless. The lamb kofta (€13) arrived with a distractingly sour side of parsley salad. The namesake Babka dessert is a far cry from the moister, richer, and softer versions that catapulted this baked good into cult status around the world. All this at prices that are high by Budapest standards: mains are €7-13. Among the better mezze were the mango-curry hummus with grilled chicken (€5), and the zucchini pancake stuffed with vegetables and a side of garlicky sour cream (€7).
They also serve Hungarian wines, beers, and bespoke cocktails. Thanks to the location and the inviting interior, Babka could become a perfect neighborhood restaurant, but the kitchen has room to improve.