Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Babka Bakery Cafe, Fitzroy by Big Fil

Babka is a good place for a tasty breakfast with excellent cakes and danishes, but the food also often comes with a large unordered serving of attitude on the side. This is one of those places that I really want to like and sometimes cross town for, remembering how much I like the food. Unfortunately I occasionally feel a bit let down by the whole overall experience.

Bright and colourful, the outside of Babka looks warm and inviting. The unusual dishes written on the chalkboard on the wall, and the views of the bread on the racks, cakes under the glass counter and back into the bakery make a really good first impression.

It can get a bit crowded getting in though, with people queuing both for a table and for takeaway. It can also be a bit cramped after you get your seat. It probably can't be helped, but Babka's popularity combined with the small interior space means that the tables are packed in. I usually try to get here before 8am, to have a chance to read the paper and finish breakfast before the non-locals arrive.

The poached fruit with toasted oats, walnuts, berries and mascarpone is a warming start to a cold morning. The oats were nicely toasted, the fruit still firm and the berries added a large splash of colour and sweetness to the dish.

If you like your French Toast quite 'eggy' then you will like it here. I prefer mine a bit lighter, but I still liked this dish. The bacon on top is not served with the toast but can be ordered as an extra. I'd certainly do so again, as the serve was generous, crisp and had a real smokey flavour.

The highlight of the food at Babka though is the cakes and danishes; the best I have had at any Melbourne bakery. Of the danishes my favourite is the apple. The pastry is always crisp but not burnt, the apples firm, the whole thing is a sweet and sticky delight. I'd recommend getting these early in the morning though, as they are best when just out of the oven.

The lemon tart may be even better. Sweet, quite tart, soft with a caramelised top sprinkled with icing sugar. The base is also well made, solid but not so hard that the force required to break it results in a slice of cake turning into a yellow mess on a plate.

The cakes are so good here, and the interior so warm, that I wish it wasn't let down by being so crowded and the too often surly staff. Being crowded probably can't be helped other than by moving into larger premises, and while the service is normally adequate in terms of getting the dishes out I don't know why so many of the staff give the impression that serving customers is an imposition on their time.

Ambience - 7 (8 early, 6 when crowded)
Service - 6
Food - 8.5
Price - 6

358 Brunswick Street
Fitzroy VIC 3065
Tel: (03) 9416 0091

Babka Bakery Café on Urbanspoon

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