Review of Babylon, Sydney CBD
Perched upon the rooftop of the Westfield Sydney building in the CBD is an oasis of Turkish inspired dishes, extensive bar and luxe surroundings; Babylon is your new sultry date night venue.
My visit to Babylon is actually anything but a date night. We are here for Father's Day, celebrating my hubby surviving yet another year of Fatherhood. #itsabattle We've packed the 2 kids and carted them into the city for a nice lunch and a couple bottles of wine after reading positive reviews of Babylon in the food press. It's a bit of a strange location, on the very top floor of the Westfield building, but once we are inside this 800 person capacity venue, we see it is split into 2 large restaurant dining rooms, an outdoor terrace (serving a bar menu only) indoor casual booths and a number of private dining rooms in varying sizes. This split allows such a massive restaurant to still feel intimate. The fit out is exquisite: complementary marbles, travertines, leathers, timbers and luxe fabrics such as velvet and silk combine to create a thoroughly modern but warm and moody aesthetic. You can see now why I think this is more of a sexy date venue than a family venue, but nevertheless they are so welcoming of my children and I can see many other families here for lunch on this Sunday. It helps that Mr 2yrs is fast asleep in the pram and Mr 4yrs is engrossed in Paw Patrol on his tablet with headphones firmly attached to his head. Please don't judge me for using screentime as a babysitter! It's the only way we are able to take the boys to nice restaurants! #parentingwin
The menu is a concise collection of Turkish inspired dishes, also borrowing flavours from Lebanon, Cyprus, Israel and Egypt. I always do the ordering for the family, we like to share everything anyway and I prefer to be in control so I go ahead and order for the table, including a negroni and old fashioned to start as a reward for dealing with the boys' sugar high and subsequent low, after an ill-conceived Fathers Day treat of chocolates in bed that morning. #mumfail #sugartantrum The food comes out immediately. Like too fast. Hubby agrees that it feels like they are rushing us, maybe because it is Father's Day and they need to turn over the table? Or perhaps they are mindful that children like to eat quickly? I would have preferred to enjoy my aperitif and then on with the food and wine but it's not the end of the world. The food is all wonderful. I actually don't have anything bad to say about any of the dishes, they are all beautiful. The Turkish bread with za'atar butter is gorgeous with the butter actually being smoked and served in a little gold dish with an engraved cloche. Topped with the smooth and light hummus and fried crispy chickpeas, its the perfect start to a meal. This is also popular with Mr 4yrs, while Mr 2yrs is still asleep! We also have an eggplant salad where the eggplant and capsicum have been cooked over the custom built Turkish grill, leaving the dish smokey and tender, with fresh zingy pops of pomegranate seeds. The final starter is a raki cured kingfish and hubby is hesitant when I order this because we tried a few rakis on our recent trip to Greece and weren't fans but Turkish raki is more anise flavoured than Greek raki which has more of a pure alcohol taste. It is lovely in this dish, the fish has just that right level of firmness after being cured and I am delighted when what I think is a blackberry turns out to be a luscious little pile of caviar! The citrus in the dish makes it bright and refreshing and tasting of the sea, wetting our appetites for the heavier dishes to come.
“I love the lamb and pistachio kebab. The lamb and especially the sumac onions remind me of the Turkish kebabs I used to get after school in Burwood in my teens. In fact, from time to time I still drive across the city from Crowie to Burwood for an authentic Turkish kebab, cooked over charcoals and served with onion salad, garlic yogurt and the best bread. #willtravelforgoodfood This dish is all the same flavours but served in an elegant and modern way. The pickled and charred chillis add a welcome kick to set your taste buds alight.
Surprisingly Mr 4yrs refuses to try the lamb kebab, even after I tell him they are sausages, and instead he prefers the Duck Pie which is a spectacular dish. Landing on our table the pie attracts "oohs and ahhs" from hubby and I as well as both the boys (Mr 2yrs now awake and ready to party). It is a self serve carving job and upon slicing into this beast, the filo pastry shatters into a million pieces of crisp layers. The filling is slow cooked and shredded duck meat mixed with spices, currants and nuts. It is also a very generous serving for the price. I know myself, a whole cooked duck does not yield much meat and it seems like there is at least the meat from one whole bird in this pie. We are surprised to notice that the pie is dusted with icing sugar and cinnamon, but it totally works! Sweet and savoury a match made in heaven. Sometimes pies like this can be dry but not this one at all. All four of us devour this pie and send the plate back to the kitchen completely clean. So my kids wouldn't eat a sausage looking lamb kebab but no problem with a duck pie! Go figure.. these are some gourmet kids. #pleasehelpus
We take our time enjoying the last of our red wine and ponder desserts. At this moment I can see a change in the boys like a tsunami approaching: the novelty of eating out is wearing off and they are growing restless with their tablets so I deploy my secret weapon to get us through to the end of the meal: chupa chups. I'm not winning any prizes for being healthy mum of the year here but it works and buys me and the other diners an extra 20 minutes of quiet. I'm a pretty easy going mum but I absolutely do not tolerate my children being loud and disruptive in restaurants. They are pretty good usually but I always have a bag of tricks up my sleeve! As a special Father's Day treat, the restaurants gifts us a plate of baklava which is what we would have ordered from the dessert menu anyway so finish the meal there.
Piling into the taxi to take ourselves home, I think back on the meal and usually there are a few things I would have like to have seen added or done differently, but on this occasion it was really a wonderful meal and I have no negative feedback other than that feeling of being rushed with the food coming out so quickly. I'm sure it was a one off as the staff were more than welcoming and happy to let us take our time eating and drinking. The flavours were familiar but elevated to a point of being a refined take on classic dishes. Hubby is already planning on taking clients here for a dinner in one of the private dining rooms and I am keen to shake these kids and come back for that date night I know would be so perfect here.
Babylon Level 7 Rooftop, Westfield, Pitt St, Sydney
*This meal was paid for independently