Food Blog | Cooking Blog
High up on the 7th floor of Kensington Roof Gardens, Babylon is unique in its provision of a quiet oasis away from the hustle bustle of the high street, despite it's location being smack bang in the middle of London. The restaurant overlooks one and a half acres of themed garden some 100 feet above Kensington High Street. Somehow, it manages to feel like a well kept secret, despite the obvious popularity that is boasted by the number of glamorous city dwellers that pour in on a Tuesday evening. The ambiance is brilliant, I immediately felt like the lucky recipient of some sort of exclusive invitation when I was shown through the full restaurant to a small-ish table looking over the gardens. The charm of our waiter and a couple of not so brief glances at the food on the surrounding tables gave me instant assurance that it was going to be a very, very good evening. Bring it on!
I am always partial to a menu that demands a "Can we just have another minute" response when a waiter asks you if you have decided on a dish. However, this wasn't what was expected when my plus one (we shall call him that, from now on) and I saw that the first two courses of the dinner menu fit on one very slim page. Eight starters and eight mains. How can so few dishes possibly warrant the length of time that it took either of us to make any decisions?
Process of elimination eventually lead us to decide on a plate of sautéed scallops with roasted cauliflower florets, golden raisin, truffled organic milk mousse and coriander oil - and a chicken liver parfait with dried black olives, hazelnuts, baby turnips, carrots and sesame & semolina crisp bread. Both were outstanding. The pan-seared scallops were not dwarfed by the flavour of the white truffle (which is always a danger when pairing truffles with anything remotely subtle). Infact, the pair, together with the sweetness of the raisin and the crunch of the pickled cauliflower made a perfectly nuanced and elegant dish. I particularly liked a spinach mousse which was smeared beneath the scallops; what could have been boring alone served as the perfect antidote to the strong flavours skipping about elsewhere on the plate. The chicken liver parfait was similarly infallible. It was smooth and perfectly fragranced, as any good CLP shout be, but what was most interesting was the fusion element contributed by the showering of sesame and nigella seeds. A soured plum compote was dolloped in the centre, pairing perfectly with the crisp bread to make the dish reminiscient of tradition. More please. My plus one, ever charming and impecibly mannered, attested that the first course was so good that it warranted finger-licking plate cleaning. Hmm.
The main course dishes were similarly impressive. Naturally, I ordered the fillet of beef - something that never ceases to make everything else on my dinner menu fade into the background. The Buccleuch Scottish fillet was perfectly tender, served crispy on the outside and devilishly rare in the middle. It showed off the typically full, distinctive and succulent flavour of Buccleuch beef that has been reared on open county fields, fed on a natural diet of grass and matured to the bone. A genuine, melt in your mouth-tell all of your friends-write it in your diary piece of meat. It was complemented by the strong, creamy flavour of harbourne blue cheese and the sweetness of pickled baby onions that decorated a baby salad from cherry tree farm, and drizzled with a rich and refined red wine and creme de mure reduction. The sophistication and potency of flavour was cut by a simple lattice of chunky homemade chips, which were welcome as a familiar break from the "What is going on in my mouth" sensation of eating the steak-salad combo. Over on the other side of the table, my Plus One ordered pork: braised cheek and roasted fillet served with sweet potato and rosemary, Granny Smith apple puree, curly kale and pork jus. It was similarly delish, with the cutlet of pork cheek standing out as the star of the show. The meat was soft, tearing into succulent flakes that absorbed the rich and winy pork jus to give an unbelievably more-ish flavour, and it came together harmoniously with the sweet potato and apple. In line with the indulgent spirit of the evening, we also ordered sides of buttered purple broccoli with parmesan and truffled bread crumbs, and crushed Mayan Gold heritage potatoes with confit white Italian onions and sage. Both. Awesome.
Despite being full to the brim, my plus one and I cracked on and ordered desert: one dark chocolate baked alaska - served with passion fruit curd, fresh mango and passion fruit caviar, and one apple tart - served with cider vinegar caramel and and hazelnut oil parfait. At this stage in the meal, we were unsurprised by the quality of the food in front of us. What did stand out about the desert, however, was the sheer creativity involved in the creation of each plate. Who might have thought that (a) passion fruit could constitute a caviar, (b) a curd, and (c) that both would be the perfect compliment to a baked alaska! Nothing was too sweet, nothing felt glutenous or sickening. Both plates were subtle and nuanced, small in size and packed with a variety of unconventional ingredient pairings. It was thoroughly impressive and an absolute treat to chow down, and just when we thought it was over - a little goodie basket box of sweeties to take home! Well if the meal didn't do it, that has definitely won you a guarantee of my return! Highly recommended to all foodies - Bablyon @ The Kensington Roof Gardens, London.