Babble Bar and Cafe is one of several eateries in that slightly more laid back area of Prahran in between Commercial Road and Chapel Street. It serves a good selection for breakfast and lunch and a small – but fairly varied dinner menu.
It’s a medium-sized cafe, with both indoor, and undercover outdoor seating. The fit out is gorgeous, and when we walked in there was a good atmosphere, with plenty of babbling; we were excited, it felt like we were in an Austrian ski chalet at the height of the season. Unfortunately our excitement soon fell flat.
We were greeted by a friendly member of staff. There was two of us, and when we asked for a table he said ” There’s only one for 4 but you know what, I’ll let you have it”. Now the tone, which sounded as if we should be grateful to be allowed an empty table – unlike the usual warm greeting you get in a Melbourne cafe, should have set alarm bells ringing. However, we were keen to try the place, so we just put it down to his manner and thought little more of it.
We were served promptly. We ordered two coffees, baked eggs and “Old Faithful” (eggs on sourdough. The food was fine, the baked eggs had a lot of flavour and the eggs on sourdough were cooked well. Coffees were also nice. Nothing about the food was outstanding, but it was all pleasant and I would happily eat it again.
Unfortunately, the strange service deteriorated throughout our meal. Our coffee order was incredibly confused and she had to check several times with the bar staff before confirming our coffees were in fact what we ordered (a latte and a soy flat white – nothing complicated – in case you were wondering). We received our meals, but weren’t offered any condiments and had to chase down a member of staff to get black pepper as there was none on the table.
All of this, while annoying, was fairly minor and could be put down to needing to train their staff a little better. The final straw came, when shortly (and I mean very shortly) after finishing our food we were approached by one of the staff and told that a party of 4 had arrived so could we move to another table. Now, it’s hard to convey the tone in writing, but to be clear, while worded politely, this was not a request and she began moving our glasses over to that table.
Now, I visit many cafes and restaurants in Melbourne, lots of them much more popular and busier than Babble (which did have tables available outside) and prior to this, countless restaurants in the UK, and I have NEVER been asked, let alone told to move to another table. To say I was annoyed, does not even cover it. I have never felt so undervalued or unwanted as a customer. Babble seemed to hold the attitude that I should be grateful to be eating there, and showed a complete disregard for the quality of my experience.
To paraphrase the recent MKR winners, it was average food and a well below average experience. Safe to say, I won’t be bothering returning to Babble, and will instead take my business to many of their nearby and excellent competitors who will offer fantastic customer service regardless of your party size or how much money you are spending.