Babble bar + cafe

Posted on December 2, 2010

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One of the best things about traveling has got to be when you accidentally stumble across a great find, whether it’s that cute little cafe, funky bar or awesome shoe shop. Ok, I wasn’t exactly traveling (even though it did take a bit of travel on public transport to get there!) so it’s not nearly as exciting, but I did recently discover a very nice place for dinner and a drink by accident: Babble bar + cafe (4 Izett Street, Prahran VIC). Truly. We had actually planned to dine at another establishment in a nearby suburb, only to find that it was closed for renovations. Here is a valuable lesson folks: always ring for a booking, or at least check that they will be able to serve you food on the day you want to attend! So what’s a girl to do, but whip out her trusty Entertainment book to locate the closest restaurant she could find. And thus, Babble was found.

This place is very cute. Located on a corner, tucked away behind the ever trendy, ever busy Chapel Street and near Prahran station in little wooden shack is Babble. With its big windows and awnings over the patio that sprawls across both street frontages, it’s quite a fabulous spot for a drink in summer! The inside is an equally appealing spot for winter. Big tick to the old fashioned fire place and giant old English looking chandeliers.

The menu is small, only a handful of entrees, pastas and mains was on offer. To be honest, I couldn’t really say that anything jumped at me, so I was happy to let my companion select the entree and just go with a pasta as the main. As such, we ended up with was a beef brisket with mandarin, chillies, mint and chives for our starter (price was in the late teens I think). Maybe it was because it’s a beef dish and I don’t usually do beef as a starter, but that dish sounded pretty ordinary to me. I’m very happy to report that I was very mistaken; it was easily the winning dish that night. The brisket was cooked well in a lovely sweet sauce, which contrasted nicely with the chilli and accompanying salad. It was a surprisingly light and fresh tasting for a beef dish. I’d come back just for this alone.

On a side note, I have noticed my tendency to favour entrees over mains. I think it’s due to a slightly sad fact that the majority of Australian restaurants serve up very standard mains. Grill fish (typically salmon) with mash and a side of vegies or steak with fries and peas anyone? The average cafe mains are mostly variations of these. However, the creativity of a cafe kitchen seems to be allowed to shine more in the smaller plates, be it the entrees or the tapas style sharing dishes. And that is my justification for the taste preference for starters.

So onto the main. I went with the spaghetti marinara with garlic oil ($25). It was a very generous meal, 4 mussels, 2 large prawns, scallops and calamari scattered on top of the thin strands of spaghetti. They didn’t do too much to the ingredients, but that’s the way I like my seafood anyway – minimal fuss, just let the flavours of the sea sing through. I would only score them down because I think some of my mussels weren’t that fresh. The second one I bit into tasted a tad too fishy for my liking. It put me off so much that I didn’t dare finish off the other 2 mussels. The rest of the dish was perfectly fine though. There was nothing wrong with the prawns or other seafood. I must have just gotten unlucky with that mussel?

The final course was a warm apple and berry crumble ($12). Again, the serving size was rather large, more than enough for the 2 of us. It was raining outside, so the warm dessert worked an absolute treat. The crumble was just a teeny bit overly sweet, but was otherwise quite delicious.

I am still feeling rather pleased with ourselves for stumbling into Babble that evening. It has all the makings of a great venue and I can imagine it would get quite packed on the patio on a nice sunny day. Hmm…so maybe I would be better off keeping all my fab finds to myself… 😛

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