Restaurant Review: Babylon

Enjoy stunning west London views – complete with flamingos – at this Kensington icon

You’d have to travel far and wide to find a person who hasn’t heard of either the Roof Gardens in Kensington or Babylon Restaurant. A destination of luxury and tranquillity, Babylon draws in a crowd of quintessentially sophisticated and cool diners. Telling colleagues and friends we were due a visit to Babylon, we were surprised at how many people eagerly delighted in sharing past experiences there.

The building itself has a history of culture and style, being home to the department store Derry and Toms until 1973, and subsequently to the iconic British fashion label Biba. The spectacular Roof Gardens were eventually purchased by Richard Branson and are now a part of the internationally renowned Virgin Limited Edition Group.

A sunny Tuesday evening in June set the scene for our venture to Kensington High Street. Upon arrival on the seventh floor we were welcomed by a host of friendly faces and whisked straight to the terrace. Having dedicated a substantial amount of my Friday nights to exploring rooftop bars across London, I have to say Babylon offers a unique quality and view that sets it apart from its peers. Unlike other rooftop establishments where the views look out over the City, Babylon offers a different perspective of London – and a truly beautiful one, taking in the Natural History Museum and Battersea and reaching over to the east. Enjoying the views and overlooking the exotic gardens with their impressive, ornamentally perched flamingos while enjoying a signature Red Edition and Babylon Sling, recommended and served by a delightful barman, we completely lost track of time and were eventually given a gentle nudge to remind us that we were also there to eat.

The food at Babylon varies slightly depending on your time of visit. Chef Ian Howard, who previously worked at the Savoy and W1 Brasserie under Gary Rhodes, has developed a menu which uses fresh and seasonal produce while making a conscious effort to produce sustainable dishes. My date and I approached the starters as a team, choosing the treacle-cured salmon and golden egg chicken liver parfait. The latter was nothing short of outstanding in terms of presentation and taste – the standard had well and truly been set from this point onwards, and both of us agreed that we would be returning to Babylon. Our meal was accompanied by a bottle of Carignan-Grenache, selected by our waiter as a perfect match for our food choices.

My date, who is born and bred from French heritage, is a tough critic when it comes to steak. Taking the challenge, we both ordered the steak, rare; the feedback from my date was “purely stunning”, and it was nothing I could argue with. Both of us have a tendency towards a sweet tooth and readily accepted the dessert menu, opting to share the coconut panna cotta, which we both thoroughly enjoyed.

Neither of us had previously visited Babylon before, but while reflecting on the evening we had just shared, we confirmed that it was a place we wanted to return to and we’ve already made plans to go back together.

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