Located an expansive corner site that previously housed a rather tired, old theatre restaurant in Hawthorn, Babushka is a bar with a difference. With the site due for redevelopment in February, the Babushka team – David Christianson (Upfront Concepts), Grant Smilie (Ponyfish Island, 360 Agency) and Mark Douglass (Mark Douglass Design) – have gutted the place to create a casual, albeit temporary, watering hole.
The maze-like venue has a jumble of features. The main room sees an assortment of chairs, pews, stools and tables casually scattered about to allow groups of all sizes somewhere to congregate. Decorative birch tree branches and forest-inspired wallpaper give the space a wintery Russian forest feel. The white walls are decorated with stencils and blown-up black and white images. The design is a little eclectic, but for a pop up bar they’ve more than a solid job.
The venue makes the most of its size with three additional private back rooms and a picnic-style outdoor area, featuring mod grass and stripy deck chairs. All of the rooms and venue are available for hire.
The entire menu revolves around the humble potato. Think potato pizza brushed with garlic-butter, sliced potatoes, rosemary, salt flakes and goats cheese or baked sweet potato with sour cream, tomato relish and cheese. Vodka (also made from potato) is the drink of choice, with boutique brand, From Russia With Love, behind the bar. As a special treat they also have an array of Burch and Purchese ice cream and Gold Bullion Bars available for those who feel like something sweeter than a potato.
Potatoes or no, the kids from Glenferrie Road will undoubtedly descend, turning Babushka into a plaything of their own.