Babajan Carlton North
Babajan is a little corner cafe cooking rustic Turkish food. It’s by Kirsty Chiaplias, former owner of The Workers’ Food Room and alumnus of Gordon Ramsay, Jarrod Hudson and Andrew Blake’s kitchens, and Ismail Tosun, her head chef and the former owner of Gigibaba. Their focus at Babajan is contemporary iterations of traditional recipes – modern Turkish food that is still rustic.
Chiapalas and Tosun go the extra mile with their ingredients, breaking down whole lamb for mince, shelling chickpeas for hummus and making their own pides, Turkish breads and simit (circular bread topped with seeds).
The ox-cheek shawarma is rubbed in zhoug (a fragrant, pesto-like sauce) and served with potatoes kavurma (cooked in the juices of the meat), fermented chilli, toasted tabouli and za’atar bread. A filo-free trout spanakopita is served with a poached egg, hollandaise, peas, charred kale and Iranian caviar. There’s also a selection of Ottolenghi-style counter salads that change daily.
The fit-out has the same homemade ethos as the food; polished the concrete on the floors and sanded old church pews for seating. The furniture is by Christensen and Jackson, Fitzroy North designers with a distinctive steel-and-timber aesthetic.