Excuses, excuses, excuses. Here's a tip for anyone hoping for a good review. If you do something to annoy the customer, don't make excuses. And don't leap to the conclusion that anyone who dares to complain is an inconsiderate dead-beat who wouldn't know good service if they tripped over it. Self-indulgence like this just ruined my breakfast at Babka, 358 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, +61 3 9416 0091. Which is a pity, because the food was great.
I blame the queues. With a steady stream of punters lining up for a table, it must be tempting to think that you're wearing the pants. But this is suburban Fitzroy, not communist Russia. The punters can go elsewhere for their brekky, and if you give them lip, they will. Queues today, gone tomorrow.
Let me explain what happened. We sit down. 5 seconds pass. Chick #1 takes coffee order. 2 minutes pass. Chick #2 tries to take order. Not ready yet. 1 minute passes. Chick #3 tries to take order. Still not ready. 30 seconds pass. Chick #1 comes back to take order. Sorry, still not ready. Another minute passes. Chick #4 arrives. We succumb to the pressure, and order some eggs. We also ask to keep hold of a menu. Big mistake. 30 seconds later, chick #2 is back trying to take order. Sorry, we just ordered. No, you can't take the menu, we're still looking it over. 20 seconds pass. Chick #3 tries to take order and again tries to steal menu. Slightly annoyed, I point out (politely) that we've ordered, we're keeping the menu, and that she's the third person I've explained this to in the past 2 minutes. Well... she says, when we see a menu, we assume there's an order to be taken. Walks off in a huff, muttering "I'm just doing my job".
But why stop there? When my eggs arrive, courtesy of Chick #3, she's gone before I can ask about condiments. Now that I want some service, it's nowhere to be found. 5 minutes pass. Eventually, with some arm-waving, I capture the attention of Chick #3, and ask for some HP. Too precious to deliver the bottle herself, she sends Chick #2 back with a bottle of Worcestershire. I didn't order that, I asked for HP. Oh... don't blame me, I didn't take the order. Hmmm, does that make it my fault?
Despite the best efforts of Chick #3 to ruin Babka's reputation, the food saved it. My poached organic eggs were flawless, the Georgian baked beans were the best I've had (deep red, thick and tasty), and the bacon, mushies and toast all good. The menu also had some unique and tempting offerings. Russian blintzes filled with sweetened cottage cheese and sultanas with a citrus sauce. A special of grilled Scottish kippers on buckwheat pancakes with horseradish cream. Rounded out with a variety of toasts, croissants and pastries, this bakery cafe has a pretty good range, albeit with a few gaps (no wheat-free bread, no eggs benedict, no fresh fruit).
Despite being cramped, Babka has a very cosy feel, and deserves its reputation as a top tier brekky venue. At just over $20 for my eggs and two good coffees (Grinders/Wega) it wasn't cheap, but the beans and eggs will probably lure me back. With a bit of luck, Chick #3 will be gone by then. I live in hope.14/20