Like the city of old, Babylon stands towering over London as an example of civilisation. And as it's namesake did, the building stretches up past its neighbours to reach for the heavens. Although in London, this feat only requires 6 or 7 floors.
Babylon is the bar/restaurant located on the 7th floor of a building just around the corner from Whole Foods Kensington. The fairly non-descript entrance can be hard to miss although the hulking bouncer in front isn't. On most evenings, you will need a reservation just to get in and if trying to get to Kensington Rooftop Gardens Club (6th floor and part of the restaurant complex), you better be on the guest list or have Sir Branson on speed dial.
I should add a disclaimer that as one of my close friends works at Babylon, I've always had a great time there thanks to him. That being said, from my previous experiences at the club (before he started) and my observation of other patrons, this is a place that really focuses on providing a delightful and relaxing time for all of its guests.
My latest visit was on one of the rare sunny days London has graciously provided to give a semblance of summer. After taking my time to peruse the extensive cocktail menu, I finally found myself with a cool drink in hand and sat back to enjoy the lingering rays. Some light jazz from the live band filtered through the speakers, perfectly balanced to allow for conversation while covering up any awkward silences. We pushed our dinner reservation back to 9pm and ordered a scallop appetiser from the terrace seafood bar.
This bar is pretty awesome with a massive assortment of seafood (mainly shellfish and prawns although I reckon you can get some sashimi or ceviche if you ask nicely) on display. They have a limited stock so once it sells out then they are done for the day. While it may be disappointing if you get there late, at least you know it's fresh! Our scallop taster was delicious with tender scallops bursting with sweetness and served in the shell (which I've always thought added an excellent artistic touch to the presentation).
Finally, we gave up on the dying sunlight and settled inside for dinner. I started off with a Summer Truffle Risotto that was tender and creamy but maintained a delicateness I can only hope to recreate at home. The truffle (surprisingly not my favourite item) did a great job enhancing the flavour of the dish without trying to steal centre stage.
My Roast Pork Fillet main was tasty and a good mix of textures from the succulent pork, crunchy veggies, and velvety spatzle. I would have liked some more of the sauce as the pork was a tad dry for my tastes but a minor point.
For dessert, we were treated to a display of liquid nitrogen cooking as an alcoholic sorbet was whipped up in seconds using a recipe similar to a margarita than was then doused in that iciest of liquids. From the billowing steam, a set of frosted glasses appeared with our delightful desserts. The coldness of the sorbet enhanced the crispness of the flavours and was a perfect high note to end the rich meal. We had a bit of an extra treat with meringue dipped in the leftover liquid nitrogen. If you dip it in and then place it into your mouth, each word you speak is accompanied by a puff of smoke. We were having far too much fun and the table next to us insisted on joining in and one lady put us to shame with a truly excellent display of smoke rings.
Overall, a great night of food and drink in an unbeatable surrounding. The live jazz (every Tuesday) was a great touch and one I'd missed from my time back in Boston. The place isn't cheap (cocktails are around £10-12, mains £25-30), but it's one of the few times I'd say it's worth it. Just make sure to go on a sunny day as it would be a shame not to experience the terrace and gardens.
Amazing view. Great venue. Fancy presentation.
But very pricey for not an incredible culinary experience.
Pro: if you dine you get easy access and discounted price to the club downstairs
In a nutshell: it is a lot about the appearance
The view is amazing... the rest is a bit mediocre. Sure, the presentation of the food is incredible - you'll think "wow, I'm in a really classy restaurant" but the quality seemed a bit lacking to me, considering the amount you pay. I had some sirloin as my main course, and it was smothered in gravy so heavily that I couldn't taste the meat at all. Not to mention the amount of gristle in the meat was just too much for a restaurant that wants to be as upscale as it is.
Everything else was good - the scallops I had as a starter were delicious, and my lemon cheesecake dessert was delicious. Still, the main course is what I go to a restaurant for, and if it's disappointing then it brings everything down a notch. So go for the view, see the gardens if they're open (they're magnificent), and then cry a little bit when you get the bill.
When my contact 'Techy Becky' said she could tell me more about what Wikileaks had in store for the world should Julian A. actually get shipped off to the USA - if the Swedes and Americans get their cottin' pickin' way. As 'Becky' had always been a good 'source' wink, wink say no more, I was all ears. 'Babylon at High Noon' she said. 'Kensington,' and she did a cellular cut-off leaving me hanging. Just as I imagine those ancient gardens were.
I tossed up whether I might have to go and look at Churchill's 'enigma de-coding machine' in the War Museum or think out side of the box as to her whispered coded instructions. The latter won. Phone book in red public phone box provided the answer. Restaurant/Bar in Kensington...silly me. I was never meant for Her Majesty's Intelligence Service.
Knowing 'Techy B.' would have booked the best table. God knows what she has to do to get into these places and always 'corner' the best seats - at the blink of an eye - has always bemused me - however, I think I won't ask. Needless to say, when I got there 'Becky' was on the Rooftop garden area waiting. A great view of west London.
Even though the view and the garden were awesome, as was the information I got...which as always, cost me the pretty price of the meal and a hot Tip for the Royal Ascot meeting. Which, by the way, was not gentle on my purse at £35 quid a head...without the wine. Merely enough to keep a 102 Lb weakling like myself alive till dinner-time. Frankly, it was over-priced considering the entrée - mine was goats cheese and beetroot with apple purée - which tasted as though it was made from an 18 year old Goat after it became a cadaver.
While my lips were parched for the wine I ordered, it only arrived after I had started to hoe into my Duck a la 'Main.' When I started to complain about my wine withdrawal symptoms, the beaming smile from the friendly waiter along with his 'we are awfully busy' look made my mouth water far more than the hot duck which was in actual truth 'a rather coldish duck.'
"Nice place this," boasted 'Becky. "I come here a lot."
"Delightful view," I gasped back, hiding the snarl with my half glass of Australian Shiraz. One day I'll work out why a glass of wine often arrives as only a half a glass. Although, I imagine it's out of pure consideration by the management for those who so easily spill it on their clothes. I can't think of any other possible motive.
The Kensington upmarket area, and the view probably justify the price tag. So, one star for the view and location, the other for the nice drink waiter who, by the way, gave me a wink and the other for the hastily prepared tasteless lunch. If a half a star was available then the 'Australian Shiraz' would get it.
It was fine - nothing amazing.
Went here for London Restaurant Week so they had a set menu (starters were duck egg, goat cheese salad, and butternut squash soup - mains: pork belly, seabass, risotto - desserts: creme brule, praline bar, something else).
Starters: Had the duck egg - wasn't runny in the middle or particularly tasty. Goat cheese salad was good, but standard. The bread they brought to the table was very good though.
Mains: Seabass - OK, lacked a bit of flavor ie. salting but some bites had the right mix. Pork belly - this was really good. Melt in your mouth, truffle sauce, nice veg with it.
Desserts: Creme Brulee was passionfruit or mango flavored - didn't love it. Praline bar was very very good though. Would have that again in a second.
At the end of the day, it was pretty expensive for what I would put in the OK meal category. Don't think I'll be rushing back.
The location is amazing. It's on the 7th floor, with an amazing view on London and the cool thing is the balcony all around the restaurant. You can chill there with a fancy cocktail from the bar (try the raspberry mojito ;) ) and enjoy the view on the roof top gardens (which are on the 6th floor) where there are flamingos resting in the artificial stream. It was a bit cold today but I can imagine that on a nice day it would be pretty awesome.
The restaurant decor and atmosphere is quite nice. I love the aquarium in the toilet separating the ladies and the gents. I could actually see my girlfriend through it. Funny. And the staff is very friendly.
The food is quite average. That's quite a disappointment. Specially when looking at the prices. My starter was nice (the salmon), but my main was tasteless (the duck) and my dessert was not very exciting. It lacks creativity & seasoning. You can definitively find a better for cheaper. But I guess you pay the location.
Go and enjoy a cocktail, but skip the dinner ;))
I will ALWAYS be a sucker for good customer service. I have worked in the service industry for 7 years, most of which has been hospitality at events and taking care of some very PICKY hollywood types. That being said, I expect a level of service when I am paying good money for a meal.
That ALL went out the window when I moved to London. I had a few awful experiences at various "good" restaurants in the city and now really cherish when an establishment is helpful, cheery, and accommodating.
Babylon was ALL of those things. Upon arriving without a reservation for lunch on a weekday, the very friendly maître d', or maybe he was the manager greeted me. I was meeting someone for a business lunch I had not met in person before, so before even being able to get out my entire story, he said "Ms. S______"? WOW! I thought this guy is clairvoyant! Apparently my lunch meeting beat me to the restaurant and the maître d' was more then helpful showing me to my table since he knew we had not met before instead of pointing in a general direction and saying "that way" as most people in London seem to do.
Side Tangent: I find that REALLY annoying, when people know I haven't been to their place before or am not aware of the way to do something and they still point in a general direction and say "go that way". No further explanation, just "go that way". This has happened on several occasions, at the gym, at the hospital, directions to the restroom, etc etc. I find it makes the "I'm an American!" neon sign shine even brighter when I'm wandering around looking lost....
Anywho, back to Babylon. The exterior is great and overlooks London. The interior is really bright, funky, and modern. Floor to ceiling windows as well! They have an a la carte menu or a prix fixe menu which I chose from. Considering you're in a posh place overlooking London 19 pounds for 2 courses and 22 pounds for 3 isn't too bad a price. I will gladly pay that for the continuing customer service I received!
I opted for the 2 course prix fixe. For the starter I had the vegetarian pea soup. When I asked if I could get it without the crème fraîche the waiter didn't even bat an eye and said "of course!". It was absolutely delicious, so much so I practically ignored my lunch meeting, I might have even made slurpy noises.
For my main I had the Roasted Chicken Supreme With sweet corn puree and grilled spring onion. It was just the right amount, beautifully presented and wasn't drenched in gravy which made me feel like I got a healthy lunch out of the deal. Win!
The service was impeccable, everyone was smiling, and you actually might have thought they enjoyed their job! The food was great too!
We've been trying to get in for a sunday brunch here but its always booked! I will be back and have already recommended it to friends! You should go too.
My boyfriend took me here for my 25th birthday (ergh, I'm so old). It was a pleasant surprise as I don't often trust his judgements in restaurants!
He reserved a table beforehand, and good thing too as it was busy on that Friday night. The restaurant is a little tricky to find. It's located on the 6th (or 7th, I can't remember which) floor of a building on a side ride close to high street ken station. On entering the building, you're met with a bouncer with a clipboard (WTF?) and then taken to the lifts up to the restaurant.
The restaurant was modern chic and fairly large in size. We were seated by the window, which had a balcony outside for drinks. The customer service was just right... I mean, don't you just hate it when the waiters/waitresses hover over you every 5 minuets? For food, I ordered steak for my main. It looked small but don't be fooled, it ended up filling me right up!
After dinner, we were allowed access to the club on the floor below. It was a really nice club and worth checking out if you're with your mates.
Downside: tad pricey for our (or rather his) pockets =(
Babylon/Kensington Roof Gardens offers a truly unforgettable dining experience in London whilst not costing the earth.
I have been several times now both as a corporate client and as a private diner and enjoyed the food and the ambience.
The gardens are truly amazing, letting you believe you have left London (save for the odd jet flying over head).
The food is elegantly displayed and cooked perfectly. For the style, flavour and choice you'd expect to pay a premium but I think the tariff is very reasonable.
This is one dining experience you should check out. Great for the foody, the romantic couple (date) or even for tourists.
This place lives in the uber-posh/cheezy Kensington Gardens complex. (Sidebar: Actually I can imagine that the gardens are quite nice in the summer although I think they get very packed).
It is a bit of a pain getting to the restaurant (first of all although the address is on the High Street it is actually on the side street) and the entrance is not marked but shared with the Kensington Garden Club and we queued with the clubbers to be escorted up to the restaurant (not cool).
We were escorted to the outside bar (on a freezing cold night) to await our tables wearing our jackets per the hostess' recommendation and under the heat lamps. It took forever for a server to take a drink order, and although the view was good, I would have rather been inside or at our table.
Finally we got to our table and it was a cozy private booth which I appreciated. The menu is two course or three courses, and I can't remember the exact price but it was pricey! I ended up with the crab and avocado appetizer which was fine but a bit of a mixed up mushy mess. The sea bass with chorizo was good, but nothing amazing. The best part was the amazing bread tray that came out which had hot lovely rolls.
The service was spotty, the price tag was big, the atmosphere was pretentious and clubby, so I wasn't all that impressed. Having eaten in the restaurant we were able to go to the club downstairs, but it wasn't so impressive. Young, international and wannabees all around!
I think there are just better places to spend your money in London, but if you do invest here, you'll be just fine.
For the price you pay, you'd expect better. Came here on Sat night for a friend's leaving dinner in a private dining room for a 3-course meal. The meal started off great - had the goat's cheese starter, which are fried balls of goat's cheese with some rocket and a beetroot/apple puree. It was delicious! Then onto the main course, for which I had the braised beef daube. Sounded great on the menu, but came out and was dry and almost inedible. The mash potato around the plate was good, nice and creamy, but that can't make up for the fact that the beef was not good. I expect braised beef to be tender. The crushed sweet potato side dish was yummy, but the avocado topped with chilli salsa was a let down - the avocado wasn't ripe. Lastly, for dessert had the treacle pudding. It was not really what I had expected, not bad but not great either. Not enough to leave a good impression for me.
The location is lovely, overlooking pretty rooftop gardens. The menu looked great, contemporary but not over-fussy. The evening seemed promising - until I got out of the lift. Reception didn't seem terribly organised, and on arrival guests were corralled into a strange, small bar area: sunken, with benches around the edges and only one entrance, it felt more like a holding pen than a good place to enjoy a cocktail.
The meal did nothing to redeem the experience. Three small rolls (all different) seemed an odd thing to give two diners - not exactly designed for sharing; the accompanying butter was incredibly salty. Food was sometimes fine (not good, not bad) but often disappointing: one starter wasn't properly cooked, while a main course was over-generous with a rather monotonous slab of meat yet downright stingy with the couple of tiny carrots huddled against a lump of unseasoned mashed potato (no salt, no milk, no butter). The cheeses were good but their selection unbalanced.
Service was pleasant but could not make up for the disappointing food, or the very high wine prices. A very disappointing meal.
My partner and I went as part of the Lastminute.com deal £25 for 3 courses but of course factor in a champagne cocktail on arrival, bottle of wine with dinner, espressos and service and it came to £130 all of a sudden
Then imagine my surprise when I asked about the gardens to be told that they are closed for renovation WTF?! If you're going to the Roof Garden Restaurant then you expect the blimmin' roof gardens to be viewable or at least to have been told in advance (it's not like they were closed suddenly, which I would understand).. AND it was supposed to be celebrating London Restaurant Week.
If I hadn't had such great company then the evening would have been disappointing (the pigeon starter didn't do it for either of us, although the main (duck) and desert (pear icecream thing) was nice.
The interiour surroundings are nice and the bar is cosy, (Molton Brown in the Ladies - always a good sign).
All in all, a nice evening but shame about the gardens. Could have been avoided if they'd just been honest with their booked-in customers.
We came here last Sunday for Sunday lunch. I had been aware of the roof gardens and the accompanying restaurant for some time but this was my first visit.
Bloody mary to start, which was good but needed more kick. Then Herring with beetroot and various other things, again this was nice but not amazing. I then had chicken roast dinner for my main course. The serving size was pretty stingy and the chicken was dry, to be honest I've cooked better roast chicken than this. We had a few side dishes of vegetables which were ok but the damage had already been done. I didn't bother with a dessert.
Also, the lunch was for Gill's sister's birthday so she had arranged for a few petit fours and a candle to be brought to our table. This was arranged during the booking process and she both spoke to a member of staff to request this and had it confirmed by email. Disappointly this didn't show up at the expected time and still hadn't 45 minutes later despite asking various times so we just left.
Although I wasn't involved in the booking process I understand from Gill that this had been pretty painful. She called on 3rd January to book a table for the 9th but the voicemail was still about New Years Eve. She booked online but in the special message section asked for someone to call her to talk about the above birthday surprise plan. There was no call, just various emails which (eventually) confirmed the birthday plans but they then failed to follow through with it.
Also, when we arrived there was a drilling noise which the manager personally informed us would finish in 5 mins. The drilling was still happening when we sat down to the table and we had to ask several times for the drilling to be stopped.
Quite poor overall.
This is a stunning setting for a spring/summer dinner with your other half. The views across West London are beautiful and the sun will set in the right place. The peace of the roof gardens below rises gently to your dinner table... idyllic!
Treat yourself: have some of the excellent Champagne on the wine list, indulge yourself with the menu. I recommend the crab ravioli with truffle for starter.
The staff is very attentive and disappear just enough so that you can concentrate on having a great time.
Went there with a group of nine, so we ordered from I assume the more limited party menu. But the food was amazing. I had the truffle risotto as a starter and the vegetarian main. The main was very cheesy so became very full. The service was great too. Our wine glasses were constantly being topped up and the waiter just grinned and beared it when we each paid on separate cards.
Entry for the nightclub was put onto our bill, not sure if we had to pay or if it was discounted but it's pretty convenient and super fun night.
We just got home after having dinner with a friend at the babylon restaurant at the Kensington roof top garden. I was excited since I made the booking and came with high expectations.
I must say the cocktail was pretty good and went down very well so hopes where high for the rest to come. Howeveqr I was quite disappointed with the food. It was good but definitely not as exceptional as it tried to be. You just can't serve bitter avocado or tough lamb with tinned beans. The dessert was taken off the bill as I got a bad piece of pineapple - which as well is not acceptable if the price is high.
So you might ask why I gave it 3 stars?well the location was beautiful the interior pretty and the cocktails amazing. I would say. Go for that instead of the food and head somewhere else if you get hungry.
Pricey but worth it for the novelty of being in a tranquil setting whilst still being able to look out over London.
I visited on a Sunday for a family birthday party and it was a nice quiet setting. There was a good selection of food available for each course (we had the set menu), and the wine was good.
We enjoyed cocktails prior to our meal which were also excellent.
The balcony is very enjoyable in the summer, but I imagine the setting is not quite as novel when you have to sit inside and can't enjoy the gardens.
When sitting outside the view is fantastic and it is incredibly relaxing to hear the breeze in the leaves and the sound of the stream while you eat.
I would definitely recommend this for family occasions or dates despite the price as the food and service was excellent.
I visited Babylon this week with a group of 7 people. The restaurant is lovely and the food was great.
We had a set menu which I thought was very reasonable given the location, Babylon's reputation and the wonderful gardens (I was pleased to step out onto the terrace and see the flamingos below!).
The service was very friendly but incredibly slow. We waited 45 minutes to receive our starters and then there was a 30 minute break between the starters and the main course.
My poor rating relates only to the slow service. It detracted from the lovely surroundings, good company and food to have my boss shooting me looks from the other end of the table and eventually saying to me If the food is not here in the next 5 minutes we're leaving.
I booked a table here to have saturday lunch for my 30th birthday, i have to say, i was very impressed with the food aswell as the service. The lunch menu is very reasonable and the quality was just simply amazing. The gardens were lovely and you could easily forget you was in the heart of London.
I would definitely recommend for a special occasion with friends or even a romantic meal for 2..
I visited this restaurant for my partners birthday over a month ago, we had a lovely evening.
Upon entering the building which is just off the Kensington High Street (by Debenhams) you go through double doors as if entering an office block and the security will take to to the lift and send you up to the top floor. It is all very exclusive and feels as if your entering a secret location. Once you get to the top floor the host will take your jackets and show you to the seated area which is a sunken area surrounded by fish tanks and beautiful tropical fish. The restaurant is to your right and have a terrace area further to your right again.
The terrace has amazing views over london, however we went on a cold October night and couldn't see much in the darkness !
The food was lovely, but quite pricey, a starter starting at £9 and a main starting at £16, wine also started at approx £17 per bottle.
We ate our meal and then went to the club set below the restaurant which was really good, a mix of funky house and pop but not too cheesy. There was also a garden with a bar set in the middle. Drinks were usual London prices, cocktails starting at £13.
We had a brilliant night and would definitley go back.
I was very excited to try this restaurant - I saw it recently on a list of best views in the city. What they mean, is the gardens, one floor below the restaurant- which you can't actually see from any of the restaurant tables, and on the weekends have to pay extra to go out and see the gardens. Ok, fine. Well, disappointed by the view we set out to enjoy the food and drinks instead. We had originally had a reservation for 3, I called a few days earlier and asked if we could have a space for 4 because a colleague was going to join us for a drink, but wouldn't be able to stay for dinner. I was told no problem. We all arrived and were greeted nicely and seated promptly. We ordered drinks, and before they were delivered the waiter asked for our order the first time. I explained that we wanted to have one round of drinks first before we ordered. The drinks arrived, but after another 5 minutes, the waiter was back asking for our order. I again told him we wanted to wait until our colleague left. He insisted that we must order, but said he would hold the courses until it was just the 3 of us who were eating, so we relented and ordered. 5 minutes later, the starters showed up before our colleague had left. The waiter was very inflexible and seemed to be rushing us out of the table all night, a very odd thing in London. I had white tomato soup and risotto, both were delicious. One of my other colleagues did not care for her starter, but we were happy to pay for it, and the Maitre d' came and removed it from the check without our asking, so that was nice. Overall, it was 70 GBP a piece for 2 drinks, a starter and a main - not great value, especially for what you get, and especially for poor service. I would not recommend this restaurant at all and will not be going back.
Situated in The Roof Gardens, Babylon is a really pleasant place to be relaxing and dining, especially during the weekends. I went there a few Saturdays ago, it was a fantastic experience, though not as great as expected I guess my hopes were too high. We had the 3 courses Saturday Lunch for £19.50, great value and the food is acceptable. The atmosphere was great and you have to book in advance if you want to have a table in the terrace it makes a great difference. Great setting, ok food so decide for yourself I will sure recommend to go at least once!
Babylon at The Roof Gardens is a fantastic venue with great views of London. It's the perfect lunch spot with big glass windows and excellent, friendly staff. It was quite busy so the ambience was vibey but not too noisy.
The food was quite good, not great and definitely towards the high end on price, in terms of what you get. I don't have a huge appetite, but found the portions really small. The staff were good and very professional. For some reason when they served us (a table of six) we had to wait for the last person to be served at every course, which is just a basic mistake that shouldn't happen in a decent restaurant. I think that you definitely pay for the location, and I wouldn't hurry back for the food.
I was taken to Babylon for my birthday and had a really enjoyable evening. We went on a thursday evening where they have a live jazz band playing which really added to the atmosphere. The food was excellent, the risotto for starter stood out for my, delicious. Service was very good and all the staff are friendly and engaging. Definately recommend this place, the only negative was once seated you can't really see the gardens which is one of the main selling points of the resturaunt!
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