Level seven of Westfield Pitt Street Mall has been empty since the shopping mecca reopened in 2010. This year, the vast space has become Babylon, a sprawling 800-seat Levantine-inspired rooftop bar and restaurant inspired by the once thriving ancient city.
Designed by Hogg & Lamb architects alongside interior stylists Stewart + Highfield, Babylon is opulent, just as you’d image one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World to be.
The huge 1200sqm space features a live hanging garden terrace and outdoor bar, lots of greenery and multiple private and semi-private dining rooms. Marble plays a big role here too, with stone quarried from all around the world: there’s a luxurious nine-metre bar crafted from Emperador dark gold Spanish marble, table tops are made with Veria Green marble from Greece and glossy black Nero Marquina marble flooring from Northern Spain.
With bars occupying two-thirds of the entire floor space, drinks are the main event at Babylon and the drinks list can only be described as colossal—with 250 whiskies, 400 bottles of local Australian and international spirits and about 300 bottles of Old and New World wine care of sommelier Simon Howland (Nomad, Catalina).
Bar manager David Nutting (Restaurant Hubert, Eau de Vie) has created a couple of signatures that take inspiration from the flavours and spices of the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean. Our top pick would have to be the “Smoke & Baklava”, with Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, baklava caramel, lime and egg white.
There are bottled cocktails too—a “Baharat Fashioned”, which is a Middle Eastern spin on the classic Old Fashioned, with fat-washed Baharat buttered Plantation original dark rum, banana liquer, house-made banana sherbet and chocolate bitters.
As for the food, it’s a far cry from being an afterthought. Head chef Arman Uz (Efendy) draws on influences from Israel, Lebanon, Cyprus, Turkey and Egypt to create an epic bar and restaurant menu. At the bar, expect tasty things like hummus with wattleseed dukkah, Port Lincoln sardine dolmas, duck, almond and coriander gozleme, and Turkish chillies with molasses.
The full restaurant menu is divided into flora, fauna and ocean, and everything from bread to baklava is made in house, cooked over wood and charcoal on a custom-built three-metre-long Mangal grill. Try the Chilbir, a recreation of a simple 15th-century sultan classic with dukkah crumbed duck egg, garlic yoghurt and burnt chilli butter. Hunkar Begendi translates to “the sultan likes it” and is 72-hour sous-vide Wagyu tri-tip served on a bed of roasted eggplant puree.
Image credit: Steven Woodburn.