Sydneysiders love their rooftops. We all know this. What we’re still wondering is how a brand-new rooftop has taken this long to pop up above Westfield Pitt Street’s food court. In what is one of the real estate light bulb ideas of the century, Babylon has burst onto the scene by bursting out onto the roof of the food court, just above where Fratelli Fresh used to sit. Head straight up the express escalator from Pitt Street, and go straight up the new escalator that’s just suddenly appeared to the mysterious level seven.
Some of you might remember Sky Garden, but the view is just about all that’s recognisable. That and the single turret. Yes turret.
We’re visiting on a damp winter evening, and the terrace is sheltered enough to allow us to sit and look out at the neighbouring rooftops and up at the city night sky.
The terrace and bar menu doesn’t miss any of our favourite Mediterranean and Middle Eastern foods – we’re talking meze, gozleme, pide, hummus, house-made breads, labna, the list goes on. The Atom Labna, hummus with wattleseed dukkah and sucuk, kasari cheese, roasted pepper and tomato pide is not to be missed.
Bar manager David Nutting has crafted six signature cocktails using flavours and spices from the Middle East – Smoke & Baklava, Babylon kahve, Martini Alla Turk are all a match made in rooftop heaven. And he hasn’t stopped there. There’s an impressive 250-strong whisky list, 400 spirits and 300 different wines.
If you thought that was comprehensive, we haven’t even got to the main event. The 212-seat restaurant is far from the open bustling food court just below. The space sprawls backwards from the rooftop garden and bar, with two semi-private dining rooms linked by a corridor of black stone marble flooring. As we wander down the passage, Arman Uz’s kitchen is on full display. It’s hard not to stop and watch as dishes are plated up like works of art.
The dining rooms are pretty stunning too – we settle in to mahogany and leather chairs below a canopy of honey beaded chain that extends in waves across the ceiling to the far wall, where others diners are tucked into a booth under an Insta-worthy Moorish archway.
Middle Eastern food is usually designed for sharing, but just quietly, consider ordering the Rock Oysters, Tarama, squid ink crackers and Raw Kingifish lions’ milk citrus caviar all to yourself.
Between courses the discussion around the table turns to a dish that’s caught everyone’s eye, the cabbage kabab. This one’s got us intrigued. Intrigue turns to impressed as the wood fired cabbage spiced with coriander and lime seated on a bed of chilli Harissa labna arrives. We all agree, the dish more than holds its own alongside a dukkah crumbed duck egg with garlic yoghurt and burnt chilli butter and a crispy spiced fried cauliflower. That’s not even the big dishes. Save room for a room for a Braised lamb neck ‘Wedding Soup’ along with the bronccolini Mahummara and free range duck pie.
It’s not a proper Middle Eastern feast without the sweets – Turkish Delight, baklava, even Kazandibi hit the spot.
With a hot new rooftop, a killer menu, and a gorgeous dining room, Babylon is set to take Sydney by storm.
Keep an eye out for our review of Duck and Rice, the other new level seven arrival.
Babylon Rooftop Bar & Restaurant
Level 7, Westfield Pitt Street, Sydney
Opening Hours 10am – 12pm, seven days a week
Images by Steven Woodburn