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.