If there was ever a venue that was perfectly suited to the glitz and glamour of Kensington then surely it’s got to be Kensington Roof Gardens. Owned by uber-rich Richard Branson, set six storeys above the reach of the working class, and full of the crème of London’s beautiful people, it pretty much epitomises the kind of venue that the average Vogue/GQ reader parties at or aspires to party at. And to ‘top’ it off, the venue is also home to one of Europe’s largest and most impressive roof gardens. Apparently, these people still need to eat, so the venue has obliged with Babylon, its seventh storey restaurant.
Walk into the rather unassuming ground floor entrance and one is lead into an elevator which you expect will magically transport you into a whole new world of solid gold walls, diamond chandeliers and £50 notes for loo role. Disappointingly this is not the case; the restaurant is a pleasant contemporary affair, with plenty of whites, bright greens and some quirky décor. There’s also a nice outdoor area where one can indulge in some cool cocktails, although the view of the city isn’t the best around. Visit on a Thursday evening and you’ll even be treated to their live jazz band.
Some nice warm bread with properly salty butter got things going nicely. Starters were plump Seared scallops with fennel puree, wild cress, winter truffle and a really fresh and clean tasting Prawn & crab tian served with some lovely runny soft boiled quail eggs. Mains were just as simple and well executed. Alex Vee’s Scottish fillet of beef was modest of size, perfectly cooked and served with celeriac mash, sautéed spinach & a perfectly complementary Madeira jus. My generous Braised lamb shank was equally good, with the tender meat just falling off the bone, whilst the lovely Pommery mash had a solid mustard kick and the jus was thick, rich and plentiful.
Desserts were again a mix of classics, but requiring a little more polish. The Plum & Armagnac soufflé was light and fluffy, but lacked any hint of the promised Armagnac, whilst I decided to pig out on the Dessert Selection; highlights of the five desserts were the Clementine Cheesecake and the Pear sorbet, although none really set my world alight. Some lovely dessert wines helped soften the blow though, including a particularly well rounded Turkey Flat dessert wine from Australia. The extensive wine list also contains plenty of good quality and decent value half bottles too.
So we both really liked the place and the food was very accomplished. But with starters at around £12, mains at £22 and desserts for £9, it was pretty expensive and there is far better value to be had elsewhere. If I had the money though, I would gladly make this my local!
Cuisine type: British/ Modern European
Meal for two (excl. drinks): £90
Babylon at The Roof Gardens
99 Kensington High Street
Tel: 0207 368 3993