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Baba's Place

A kaleidoscope of south-west Sydney food and culture inside a Marrickville warehouse.
By Ben Hansen
December 13, 2021
By Ben Hansen
December 13, 2021

"This is an actual restaurant in a warehouse. Where else is that happening in Sydney?" Baba's Place co-owner Alexander Kelly queries. Following a series of pop-ups that started in Newtown's Rolling Penny, Baba's Place has found a permanent home in a red brick warehouse on Sloane Street in Marrickville.

Kelly started Baba's Place with longtime friend Jean-Paul El Tom, but the team has quickly expanded. Co-owner James Bellos, Jean-Paul's sister running the front of house and Brand Director Zaal Kaboli are just some of the many figures you'll find floating around the inner west restaurant. The young team brings together an eclectic mix of experiences and fresh exciting ideas. "One of the things we try and stress, we're all learning," says Kelly. "This is a school."

The menu here pulls from Kelly and El Tom's south-west Sydney upbringing, from family meals to eating out in Burwood and Hurstville. You'll find a Lebanese version of the Fillet-o-Fish based on El Tom's dad's favourite homemade fish burger (a continual favourite of the previous Baba's Place pop-ups), Canadian scallops in koji, crispy roast chicken and a bouillabaisse bolognese that combines the generational spag bol and the hand-pulled noodles of restaurants like Shang Lamb Soup.

The drinks menu is still evolving, with love shown to rakia and to a range of Middle Eastern and Baltic wines that Kelly is still exploring and discovering. As is the interior, which illuminates the beauty of the suburban home with family photos, white frilly table cloths and 80s tableware. These hallmarks of your childhood home, or your school friend's house, is what Kelly, with the help of Kaboli wants to highlight. "Aspects of Sydney and Sydney's culture, like pillars and red bricks and doilies, they're all fucking beautiful."

"[At the Rolling Penny pop-ups] I was just excited to have somebody say Baba," he says. "Now we have bigger goals. Now we have goals to really highlight suburban Sydney and south-west Sydney."

Outside of your meal at Baba's Place, the music and art is just as central to the restaurant. Head on the right night and you'll find some of Sydney's most exciting and cutting edge DJs in charge of the music, while art and and the further reaches of culture are spaces the team has explored with its past pop-ups and aspects of the restaurant that will continue to emerge further in the future.

Images: Cordelia Williamson

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