Babka or Badka?

I have made many a rave review about Babka before. It ranks near the top of my list as far as favourite breakfast places in Melbourne are concerned. They make a kickass scrambled eggs on toast, the mushrooms are completely out of this world, and the shoofly buns are even better. But there is a problem.

On my last couple of visits there, it seems like it has been cursed by the curse of the popular. It’s not the long queues that were off-putting; it was the snobbery of the place that made me one very pissed-off customer. They make no qualms about displaying their displeasure; they won’t serve you if you arrive 5 minutes before seven even though the doors are already open and sign outside doesn’t tell you that they’re still closed.

I hate snobbery in good places. Actually, I just hate snobbery! Especially when I made a special trip down to Brunswick Street in hopes of a lovely breakfast all by myself. When I arrived, I was greeted by none other than a/the very cold waitress whose eyes had the most icy stare in them. She looks like the maitre’d.

“Table for one please”, I muttered before she waved her hand in the direction of the table near the window sill without casting me a second glance – ah, perfect. That’s my favourite seat. “Do you need a menu to order?”, she asked. Duh. Menus are one of those things you offer a customer when they sit down; food, or drink, is what you ask a customer to order. Asking me if I needed a menu to order was a simple display of service slip-shoddery.

The situation was redeemed quickly enough by a chirpy waitress who offered to take my drink order. I ordered a skinny latte (the first coffee I had in 2 months by the way), but when it came, it was a disappointment. The coffee was burning hot; anyone knows that coffee that scalds your lips equals burnt coffee/milk. But I let it pass since it’s not one of the big boys in the coffee scene. I placed my order of poached eggs on toast this time. Said chirpy waitress also acceded t0 my strange request of “with a slice of vege toast and multigrain toast” instead of the usual white casalinga. She saves the day.

I sipped my coffee (although barely – I drank no more than a tenth of the glass) and flipped through my paper while waiting on my breakfast order. 5 minutes passed; they might be busy. 10 minutes passed; they must be REALLY busy. 15 – ok this is getting a bit much but patience is key; 20 – it took me 5 minutes to finally get the attention of the waitress. Chirpy waitress came. “Excuse me, I’ve been waiting a really long time for my order to come. Could you please help me check if it’s ready?”

Soon enough she came back. “I’m sorry but your order has accidentally been wiped off but I’ll get them to make one for you again”.

WT*?! First of all, I was obviously miffed that my order was wiped off; secondly, that they took 20 minutes and a customer’s request to figure out that their breakfast hasn’t arrived yet is completely unacceptable; they may be busy, but they’re definitely not a 40-tabled restaurant with only 5 staff on hand. I cancelled my order in the end and ordered a hot cross bun instead. This time it wasn’t good either; the bun arrived at my table cold, whereas in the past it would always be sliced into half and toasted. There was no doubt the bun tasted great, but by then the repeated disappointments overshadowed the good food.

And just to add salt to the wound, a snobby couple pushed their way through the tables and plonked their arses onto the two seats next to mine. I have no problem with sharing the space, but a simple courteous “excuse me” would have been nice, especially when I was already struggling to find space on that meagre benchtop with my toast, coffee and paper. Perhaps if Babka really wanted to improve their quality of service (which is in the dire straits), a suggestion would have been for the waitress to ask if it were ok if I shared the space. Whatever happened to basic courtesy?

On a side note, I noticed that the Cold Waitress was particularly warm to other customers, but cold to me. It doesn’t help her cause when I realise that I’m the only Asian amidst the whole sea of Caucasians. It also wasn’t the first time that the Jman and I observed/encountered this. Do we sense an undercurrent of racism there? Or are we just being oversensitive?

Whatever the case, there should be no excuse for poor service regardless of who your customers are. Would we return to Babka? Absolutely not for a sit-in meal anymore (because you are actually charged extra for sit-in service, and I don’t see why I should be paying for service when I’m not getting it), but there is no doubt they still make a pretty good loaf of bread. That said, there’s always Dench and Natural Tucker down the road from where I live!

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One Response to “Babka or Badka?”

  1. what a shame! i hate it when things like this happen. then, i will have to give up the food i like. it happened to me a few times and i just made a decision to boycott that stall or company.

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