As the self-proclaimed “worst kept secret” in Prahran, Babble café has become somewhat of an institution for the stylish suburb – and with good reason. With a menu that impresses even the most passionate foodie, an extensive cocktail and wine list and of course, great coffee to boot, Babble manages to straddle the line between laid-back and stylish, in the kind of place where you just want to hang out and spend your whole afternoon.
Owner, Walid Hijazi, credits the café’s success to not only their combination of great food, coffee and cocktails, but to an emphasis on friendly service where the staff are encouraged to be themselves. Walking into Babble feels a bit like walking into a casual party in your friend’s living room – but with better coffee.
“If I could describe us in one word, it would definitely be quirky,” says Walid. “There’s really a laid back casual feeling. While you can expect great food and service, we want this to be a place that people can enjoy, a good joint to come and hang out in.”
As for their culinary credits, the menu designed by head chef, Trevor Gatt, offers a varied selection that attracts a regular following. For breakfast, the extensive list of over 20 items covers all the morning comfort foods and health fixes and is served until 4pm every day. Salads, sandwiches and wraps serve as welcome lunchtime options, with gourmet foccacias often taking the spotlight. For dinner you’ll find a few veggie-friendly meals, burgers, and pastas. Walid strongly recommends the steak, as they pride themselves in sourcing quality beef.
As for their coffee, they have been serving Griffiths for the past eight years, deciding to team up with a company they saw as willing to get to know their business and cater for their needs.
“They wanted to work with us and get the right coffee for us,” says Walid. “When you’re growing, it’s good to have a partner who’s growing with you. As Melburnians are getting to know their coffee better, we know we need to get better.”
In hiring baristas, Walid says that attitude can often be as important as skills. He’s willing to train someone from scratch and would rather do that than work with someone who doesn’t match the vibe of the café.
“With new staff, you find they either get it or they don’t,” he says. “Baristas have to have a lot of pride in their work, they have to be willing to continually improve.”