I am pleased to start this post by saying I can’t wait to return to Babylon at The Roof Gardens. It was my first visit to this iconic Kensington restaurant, known for its extensive London roof gardens and particularly for its flamingo residents. I was surprised at just how peaceful and huge the gardens are here – it is most definitely worth taking a pre-meal wander around them as we did, and discovering little waterfalls and cosy seating spots. The location and atmosphere is a calming escape from the bustle of London life, the staff are attentive and welcoming, and the food…well we will get to that now.
On being seated in the restaurant at our spacious booth table, we were given an amuse-bouche – a small teacup of white tomato soup – while we deliberated over the London Restaurant Festival menu options. It turns out, thankfully, we aren’t completely ignorant and that white tomatoes don’t actually exist, this is made simply with only the juice of tomatoes and some cream to give it its white colour. The tomato flavour was surprisingly intense, a bit of a surreal moment for the senses when you’re looking at a mug of white liquid, and completely delicious. It definitely got our taste buds going!
Having deliberated over the menu for long enough, I started with a very refreshing dish of char grilled watermelon and basil feta. It was a light dish full of gentle flavours, the sweetness of the watermelon pairing nicely with the smooth whipped feta. This was a great dish to cling on to the flavours of summer just that little bit longer.
My dining buddy for the night chose a crab salad to begin her meal. The presentation of this was very impressive – I can’t imagine how much effort goes into building an iceberg lettuce tower! The crab itself was delicately flaked and deliciously fresh, dressed in a punchy mustard mayonnaise.
For our mains, we chose the artichoke and wild mushroom, and the braised pork cheek and roasted fillet. The artichoke, spinach and mushrooms in the first dish were cooked to a beautiful texture, and the slightly salty sauce brought all the flavours of the dish together.
The pork dish was another a winner for us. The meat was packed with flavour and tender to cut, and the dish was full of varying interesting textures, with apple puree and crispy kale giving smoothness and crunch.
We decided to try a couple of the sides available, adding winter slaw and purple broccoli to our table. These felt healthy and wholesome, whilst also tasting so good we polished the plates off – the winter slaw was crunchy and creamy, and the broccoli was given a luxurious edge with its truffled bread crumbs.
And so we reached the dessert course, keen to see what was on offer. While the cheese course was tempting, it was the chocolate that won at the end of the day. When the chocolate pave was brought to the table, the descriptions of soil and gravel from the menu came to life. Hidden beneath the crunchy ‘gravel’ topping is a smooth, creamy and rich chocolate mousse. A very fun concept, and a tasty result!
The second dessert had the equally compelling dish title of inverted cheesecake. This turned out to be a cylindrical roll of biscuit encasing a creamy cheesecake topping. It was actually somewhat lighter than a cheesecake and, accompanied by a tangy lemon thyme ice cream, it was perfect for the end of a 3-course meal.
I highly recommend ending your meal at Babylon with a drink out on the terrace. There are heaters so you can stay warm even as the weather turns, while you look out over views of London and the gardens. The London Restaurant Festival menu is available at Babylon at The Roof Gardens between 8 – 27 October 2014. The menu we had was a 3-course dinner, £35 per person, but there is also a 3-course lunch menu for £25 per person. If you are heading along to see the flamingos, I suggest you book for lunch as they go ‘to bed’ at around 6pm.
Babylon at The Roof Gardens
The Roof Gardens, 99 Kensington High Street, London, W8 5SA