As a fan of both eating and ornithology (trust me, it will be a cool hobby soon), the prospect of a 3-course meal followed by a potential flamingo sighting was not one I was going to turn down. Yes, there are flamingos in London. Flamingos on Kensington High Street no less.
Babylon at The Roof Gardens sits on the 7th floor, one floor above the famous flamingo-filled gardens, and offers a great view of the London skyline. Phrases like tranquil hideaway get thrown around a lot, but Babylon is a truly unique setting for a London restaurant.
There’s more to Babylon than views, flora and fauna however. The food makes it a gastronomic destination in its own right, so flamingos aside, I was more than happy to sample their London Restaurant Festival menu.
Distracting me from the setting and the views from the terrace was always going to be a tough ask, but my starter of pea and girolle risotto was as aesthetically pleasing as they come. And it packed a punch in terms of flavour too, with rich girolle mushrooms topping a creamy blend of crushed peas, carnaroli rice and Parmesan-style cheese.
My friend opted for an equally flavour-rich opener. A meaty slab of roast chicken terrine was wrapped in a brioche pistachio crumb, and garnished with piccalilli and red mustard frills. Don’t let the elegant presentation fool you – there’s plenty of flavour going on here.
Mains continued the theme of dishes that were attractive enough to take my eyes off of the view. My lamb was a lesson in simplicity – simple flavours, cooked well. The roasted rump sat atop rosemary and garlic polenta, peas, broad beans and courgette, with extra virgin lemon rapeseed oil and lamb jus adding a finishing punch of flavour.
The roasted cod came with more of a kick, joined by a sweetcorn and chorizo ragout and coriander emulsion. Proving that Babylon can also do inventive, charred sweetcorn kernels and coriander salted popcorn, added a welcome element of surprise.
I’m not usually a dessert fan, but I was won over by my plum and thyme custard tart. I may not have a sweet tooth, but I do love an unusual flavour combination, and the plum and thyme pairing, alongside honeycomb, made this a highlight of the evening.
My friend also ended on a high – a fellow fan of something a little different, his lemon posset with poppy seed ice cream, gin and tonic jelly, and juniper meringue went down a storm.
Babylon at The Roof Gardens has a unique but winning formula – fine food and service without pretense, great views without crowds, and a Knightsbridge location without the price tag. And yes, I did see some flamingos after my dinner.