Level 7, Westfield, Pitt St, Sydney
Mon – Sun 10am to 12am
(02) 9023 9990
Aladdin’s cave for adults, stocked to the brim with style, sensational food and enough booze to have you seeing double.
With 400 international and Australian spirits, a 250+ whisky list and 300 bottles of Old and New World wines, you’d be forgiven for thinking Babylon was a world-class bar. Instead, it’s a world-class restaurant, featuring two elegantly curated bars, one of which houses a stunning nine metre bar-top crafted from Emperador dark gold Spanish marble. Yes, nine metres, and that’s just the beginning.
The beautiful middle-eastern 1200square metre juggernaut is the drinking and dining haven Sydney’s CBD was longing for. Perched upon Pitt Street Mall’s Westfield rooftop, this slice of Babylon has been brought to life through high-end interiors, courtesy of Hogg & Lamb architects and interior stylists Stewart + Highfield. The space has been derived from a series of adjoining buildings and rooms, bound by a laneway that leads you from the restaurant through to the outdoor terrace, framed with abundant greenery.
Once you’re seated, you’re bound for a new journey that will guide you to the discovery of an array of decadent dishes, each paying homage to its history with a nod to the future.
The menu is divided into five sections: flora, fauna, ocean, sweet and taste. Each section encourages you to explore the land and sea from the comfort of your leather cushion seat, but, where you choose to go can be difficult due to the enticing and endless options available – and that’s why we are here to help.
Babylon proves that as much as we love fauna, flora can truly shine. Fresh produce, curiosity and exquisite execution is how we sum up the flora variety. Taking out first position on our must-try list is the Spice Fried Cauliflower ($16), with Ras El Hanout, lemon, tahini, almond and parsley. Think a chef’s take on designer nuggets, without the chicken and with a dash of sophistication. For your daily green intake, don’t look past the Wood Fired Broccolini ($18) with Muhammara spread, walnuts and pomegranate molasses. The smokiness of the grill with the crunch of broccolini and walnuts makes for a fresh and lingering taste sensation, which makes you ask, “is this really just broccolini?” A surprising smokey contender, and one of the chef’s self-confessed ‘curious concoctions’ is the Wood Fired Cabbage Kebab ($20). Don’t let the name fool you, there’s a reason it’s in the flora section – it’s just cabbage. Cascading cooked cabbage to be precise, served upon a bed of harissa spiced labneh and dressed with fresh coriander, lime and Aleppo chilli.
As much as the flora shines, so does the fauna. Big time.
For us, there was a clear winner, something that all carnivore-loving folk need to try – the Hunkar Begendi, 72 hour Wagyu Tri Tip ($59), sliced and staged upon a bed of smoky eggplant puree and charred leek. The dish is moody and dark in colour, with the only highlights being the perfectly pink meat. You taste the coal, the creaminess of the eggplant and the bitterness of the leek. Perfection.
For diners seeking a truly authentic dish which demands hours of preparation, cooking and technique, you must try the Turkish Wedding Soup ($36), made up of 12 hour braised lamb neck with manti, yoghurt, mint and chilli butter. A thick and creamy puree-style soup with fall-off-the-bone pieces of spiced lamb, lovingly mixed with fresh yoghurt, mint and chilli for the kick that will have you coming back for more.
Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about the ocean. The team at Babylon not only know their seafood, they know how to turn it into artwork. The residents of the sea worthy of a mention are the Rock Oysters ($22) with tarama, squid ink cracker and beach succulents. The plate is evocative of a midnight sky over the ocean with bursts of purple-blue, green and white. Freshly shucked oysters (out of their shell) sit daintily on the plate as a platform for the tentacle-like squid ink cracker sculpture and pop of vibrant green succulents – the ultimate showcase.
Last, but not least, something delicious and sweet. Now, we tried all of the sweet treats. A hard task we know, but something that was necessary – we had to find the top contender. You’ll find a big dose of rosewater in the Turkish Flag Turkish Delight ($14) and a curiosity-meets-perplexity when you try the Burnt Milk Pudding ($16), perfect for those after something unique and experimental. But, our favourite, hands down, is the Tahini Chocolate ($17), with dates, caramel sponge and Turkish coffee ice-cream. The nuttiness of the tahini pairs perfectly with the coffee and chocolate. The texture is unusual, but it works and it has you spooning a little faster after each bite.
To say that Babylon is great is an understatement. It’s a trip to an ancient wonder of the world, whilst staying in the present. Everything has been executed well, from the creativity of the dishes to the style of the venue, to the impressive and expansive staff and finally the liquor-lover-loaded bar/wonderland. This is a venue that commands your attention and delivers beyond your expectations. Somewhere we look forward to heading back to (and soon).