Middle Eastern cafe-turned-providore Babajan has added a location in Melbourne's CBD, sharing its signature house-made pies, vibrant salads and ready-to-heat meals with a wider audience.
As at its Carlton North location, the centrepiece will be a counter abounding with items such as confit ocean trout sandwiches with green zhoug and pickled cucumber, baharat-roasted cauliflower salad, and white chocolate lamingtons with date jam. And like the northside original, it will be geared to takeaway.
Tall timber shelves are stocked with Babajan favourites such as its salca (red pepper paste) or pickled chillies, while a refrigerator has baba ghanoush and other dips to take home.
Owner-chef Kirsty Chiaplias loves being unhitched from a menu and having a cabinet to fill each day. The city store will ramp up the focus on Middle Eastern pastries, baking flaky boreks and generous pides on-site.
"I feel like the smell is really important to entice people and give a sense of warmth to the place," she says.
There's also an even greater range of simit, the ring-shaped Turkish bread that Chiaplias fills with savoury ingredients and, for the first time, a sweet ricotta, hazelnut and quince option.
Persian love cake, sesame-maple cookies and many of the salads are among several vegan and gluten-free choices. Proud Mary coffee is served as espresso or filter, along with cold-pressed juice and Turkish soft drinks.
Harking back to Babajan's brunch days, Chiaplias says she could be persuaded to do the occasional dine-in breakfast, similar to a pop-up.
For now, she's thrilled to join a huddle of traders at the east end of Little Collins Street, where commuters and locals from nearby apartments have already given her a warm welcome.
Experiencing the support of postcode 3000 residents, Chiaplias will add more take-home meals such as baharat-roasted chicken or leek, vermicelli and beef mince soup.
Open Mon-Fri 7am-3pm.
Shop 5, 1 Little Collins Street, Melbourne, no phone, babajan.com.au