I am lucky enough to be working for a company that provides some awesome benefits to its employees; one of which is a genius concept called ‘summer working hours’, which boils down to the fact that I end up getting every Friday afternoon off. A few of us in the office decided to celebrate the first Friday afternoon of freedom (last week) by enjoying a lazy lunch at Babylon restaurant at The Roof Gardens in Kensington. I’d heard of The Roof Gardens a few months ago through a friend, and had mentally added it to my ‘things to do in London’ list; the gardens sounded amazing, and rumour had it that there were live pink flamingos wandering around. When it was suggested that we go to Babylon for our lunch, I jumped straight on board and kept a countdown to when I could see the flamingos.
Thankfully it was a gorgeously warm and sunny day last Friday, so we were all in the mood to escape the office and enjoy London on a summery afternoon. We arrived at Babylon and sat down in the lounge area with a glass of bubbles (we took advantage of their weekday lunch offering: 2 courses + a glass of bubbles for £20) whist we waited for our seat. After about half an hour we thought we’d been forgotten, so we asked a passing waitress, but still waited another 20 minutes or so before being seated at our table. By this time we were pretty hungry and ready to order, so we got a few bottles of rose to entertain us until lunch arrived and ordered our meals; some on the table ordered starters + mains, and most of us chose main + dessert. After what seemed like an eternity, the starters were brought to those who ordered them; another eternity ensued and we got our main courses at around 4:30pm (we booked the table for 1pm). The food was delicious (I ordered sole fillet, and although it was a small dish, the flavours were really good), but the service was just terrible, and ruined our experience. The dessert almost made up for the lack of attentiveness by the staff; it was an elderflower jelly topped with strawberry & basil salad, and with honey ice cream. It was served with a pansy on top of the ice cream, which was almost too good to eat, but of course I did eat the dish and it tasted divine.
We were impatient to get to see the flamingos before leaving (I had to head off to see Wicked – read about it here), so we asked for the bill and had another lengthy wait before it arrived. We took one look and realized they had overcharged us, so we sent it back and waited for another seemingly endless period before it was brought back – with no apology, and no amendments. By this time we were all totally unimpressed, settled the bill as best we could and left to enjoy the roof gardens.
We soon discovered that the flamingos were not just a myth, and I happily snapped about a million pictures of the beautiful creatures. One of the girls in our group was expecting the flamingos to be plastic, and when I asked her why she thought I would have got excited and counted down the days to see flamingo statues, she just shrugged. Not sure what that says about me, but I’ll try not to read into it too much!
The gardens are really exquisite; there are different sections to explore: a rose garden, a Spanish themed area and a rose garden, and they’re all so lush and green that it’s easy to forget that you’re in the middle of London. When we were visiting, there was an event being set up so we couldn’t enjoy a drink in the gardens but I’d certainly like to go back on another sunny day for a glass of wine amongst the flowers and flamingos.
Due to the incredibly poor standard of service we received, I would certainly not recommend Babylon restaurant, but if you want a great venue to share a drink with friends in the London summer, The Roof Gardens should be near the top of your list!Want to see more posts like this?
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