Beach Blanket Babylon 1

45 Ledbury Road , London, W11 2AA

Beach Blanket Babylon London restarant bar

SquareMeal Review of Beach Blanket Babylon

It's sometimes berated for a lack of ‘substance', but that doesn't stop labyrinthine BBB getting packed out every weekend with dedicated followers of ‘style'. Opulent interiors go all the way, with ornate purple chairs, elaborate fireplaces and vaulted cellars suggesting a cross between the Palace of Versailles and a drag-queen club. The hordes of moneyed young things who gather here add to the lavishness of it all – linen suits, perma-tans and Russian accents abound. Cocktails hover around the £10 mark on a list that rarely breaks new ground – think million-dollar mojitos and Moscow mules. ‘Pedestrian' food also plays it safe, which means a trawl through chilli salt squid, seared tuna with couscous and apple pie with whipped cream. Service continues to get mixed reviews, ranging from ‘polite and efficient' to ‘appallingly slow'.

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4.1

Food & Drink: 4.9

Service: 3.6

Atmosphere: 5.6

Value: 3.2

Food & Drink: 1.0

Service: 1.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 2.0

Alberto D. bronze reviewer 07 January 2014

It was an overall disappointing experience…that had actually started well! When we got to BBB and had a cocktail at the bar, things were looking like a pretty outstanding evening. Great drink, full bar, good buzz and atmosphere! But as we moved to have dinner things changed dramatically! The service was sloppy and not attentive and the food was average…at best. It's a shame the dining experience isn't up to the decor and bar standards…with all the options opening up in Notting Hill, unlikely to be coming back.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 3.0

Samual C. 21 December 2012

Stepping through the doors of BBB invites you to be a cool kid for the evening. Unassuming location with a touch of the exclusive. The super bubbly girl by the door as you walk in was as sharp with her choice of dress as she was effortlessly in control of where her guests would be seated for the evening. Slightly disappointed by the hemmed in feel of the various different areas inside. With such a unique layout and structure, particularly downstairs at the back and the mezzanine, having tables so close together is perhaps an ill thought out decision. Nonetheless it sort of suits the vibe. The food was good but nothing extraordinary. The menu was full of relatively easy decisions on flavour and the wine selection was just the same. I was shocked that only the third person I asked was confident they knew what a Grey Goose martini was. I got the feeling the table staff were inexperienced with food as they didn't venture away from the pre-rehearsed explanations of each dish but they were very friendly when we could finally get someone over to the table and we didn't have to wait too long after our orders… The bar really comes alive after dinner and with regular dj sets BBB really does welcome you to a ‘night out’ rather than just dinner for 2. I would say book for four or more friends to get the most out of this restaurant.

Food & Drink: 1.0

Service: 0.0

Atmosphere: 0.0

Value: 0.0

SM 08 May 2012

I can handle pedestrian food without too much fuss (and this food was very pedestrian), but what we witnessed on Saturday night should not happen to anyone. First the food. The carpaccio starter was sliced very thick, the jus for the fillet main way too sweet, with its potato rosti side astonishingly similar to what you get for breakfast at a certain American fast food restaurant. Second, service and timing. They incorrectly asked my wife and I to wait downstairs at the bar until the rest of our party arrived…but they were already seated, which we sorted ourselves with a phone call. And then appallingly slow…25 minutes to get drinks. It continued from there. Most importantly, Poor customer treatment by Staff and failure to manage. We were seated upstairs in a large space that was set for 3 or 4 tables. 1 very large table (30+) and others set for ~8 guests. The large table was for a birthday, fine, no issue as yet. However, as the meal continued, that table became rather offensive to other guests in the room, shouting at them to “Be quiet for our toast!”, or yelling general obscene remarks. We overheard a member of Staff, “apologise” to one of the smaller tables, saying something akin to “I am sorry, but they are friends of the Owner, so there is not much I can do. You must understand.” (I for one, did not understand). I note that this member of Staff never approached the large table. Then it got worse. The large table made several derogatory comments directed specifically at one of the tables during yet another toast. When a gentleman from the small table approached the head of the large group, a man in his 60’s, with a request to “Please stop,” the man from the small table was assaulted (headbutted believe it or not) by one of the younger patrons of the large table. A scuffle ensued, with staff doing almost nothing. On our way out, we overheard Staff again telling a couple members of the small table (now downstairs, meal completely interrupted), “We agree that shouldn’t have happened, but they are friends of the Owner.” The large table was allowed to continue. I know the Staff cannot necessarily control other patrons, but there was little overall control and a clear distinction in the treatment some guests received from Staff. Unless you know the owner personally, I don’t think I would recommend this restaurant.

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 1.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 2.0

Mitzie8cake platinum reviewer 08 May 2011

I can't really say I'm surprised as I was fully aware of the reputation that preceded this longstanding haunt, but alas the poor service and mediocre food featured in our experience just as it has in fellow diners visits. Flagging down waiters is never fun, neither is waiting ten minutes for a glass of champagne to arrive so you can commence a toast, or being told I couldn't have my much craved fish and chips because the chip fryer was on the blink. What I did get served was a platter of oily fried fish and crab cakes complete with tough and bland prawns, whilst my friend's prawn linguine consisted of a disproportionately large amount of linguine with two prawns (seemed to almost be a garnish). Being a celebratory lunch, my friend and I made the most of it, focusing instead on the kitsch, medieval and somewhat intriguing interiors that seem to be the result of a seriously cheese-induced dream, but it was a little grating all the same. Advice; seems to be a local favourite for brunch, for everything else I'd go somewhere else.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 1.0

Detective Chan 29 March 2010

Beach Blanket Babylon, 45 Ledbury Road, Notting Hill, London W11 2AA On an occasion where the destination was pre-determined by our ‘illustrious’ host, we were to convene for dinner at the affectionately known ‘BBB’ – also a nickname for a mutual friend of ours (cue muted sniggering in an ‘in-joke’ manner). The important nature of the evening was met by frantic preparation – last gasp sprint to the dry cleaner; a shower more reminiscent of an army hose-down; a parting self-frisk checklist of keys, wallet, phone followed by a vain mirror glance and the fleeting decision of whether to leave the critical hat aside and enjoy the proceedings purely as an ordinary guest. Likely. The inevitability of running late forced the hand of driving vs. public transport which would later prove an imprudent choice. Nestled in an unassuming residential street, Beach Blanket Babylon is far enough away from the tourist trap of Notting Hill's bustling market and infamous ‘Blue (now black) Door’, but close enough to Westbourne Grove to attract the local elite set. The extravagant Georgian mansion that houses the restaurant/bar come members' club has a distinct charm and air of exclusivity about it – however this could be misconstrued as somewhat of a pompous trait. The interior is a nod to the decadent past of the opulent Rococo and grandiose Baroque style, featuring wall to ceiling sash mirrors, crystal chandeliers and ornate candelabras, although I fail to see where the Boho chic they mention arises, unless they mean the clientele. After being greeted by a gracious enough maître d’, we were escorted to the dining area, through what felt like a plank walk on a pirate ship à la The Goonies, up steep narrow cast iron steps, to a cavernous alcove named ‘The Chapel’. There is a vulgar eccentricity to the eclectic mishmash of Gothic arches and Grecian furnishings; the mezza luna shaped table we sat at was highly unconducive to a social setting and we spent most of the meal cranking our necks just to converse with one another. We were presented with a three course set-menu written with the banality of which made a motorway service station menu sound adventurous – a throwback to Heston Blumenthal’s reinvention of Little Chef? but given the circumstance, there was little choice but to slip out a wry smile and order. For starter, I opted for scallops with truffle and butternut squash purée. The portion size was modest; nevertheless the scallops were relatively fresh and seared well. Though the taste of truffle was undefined, the butternut squash constituent of the purée perked up an otherwise indifferent starter. (Lamentably, it is exactly this type of entrée which seems to be de rigueur of so many mediocre establishments that put far more emphasis on the perceived market value of the ingredients than the quality and concept of a dish). The caramelized red onion and goat’s cheese tart that my vegetarian counterparts ordered looked abundantly more appetising but perhaps this was a case of “grass is greener” syndrome. The main was prime fillet of beef with baby carrots, oyster mushrooms & garlic herb butter – totally uninspired, but for non-argument’s sake, let’s call it sustenance for a boozy night ahead. Even so, the fillet was prime and perfectly medium rare to order, unfortunately the baby carrots seemed like they had bypassed the stove between the root cellar and the pass, slung on as an afterthought – a teeth shattering crunch not even the most discerning Leporidae would have approved of. The oyster mushrooms must have had a nosebleed – already quite a ‘meaty’ fungi, it had no place being on this plate. As for the deplorable ‘garlic herb butter emulsion’, for one, I am snoring with boredom; for another, I am snoring with boredom. Were it not for the obstinacy of carrying my own pocket sized Tabasco (even Nigella does this), I would not have bothered to finish this course. After some gentle persuasion, I managed to secure a taste of my companion’s dish which in comparison had every component part cooked well and complimentary to each other – the pan fried sea bass was served with a superb tomato vinaigrette and an equally divine chestnut purée; the buttered spinach not too watery. Crème brûlée is a traditional yardstick of dessert – a restaurant can excel remarkably or fall dramatically flat on its face with this ubiquitous pot of ‘burnt cream’. The one presented to us had a silky texture, was relatively unctuous although the crust could have perhaps done with a few seconds more under the torch to give that reassuring crackle of caramel; passable but nothing memorable. Having heard reports about the paltry service and waiting staff, they indeed did not solicit any praise; on this occasion, they were merely passable. Nothing more to dwell upon. After the meal, we were ushered to our reserved tables in the now heaving ‘Grand Banquet Ballroom' bar. Most of the clientele consisted of pretentious swathes of ‘new money’ types, the aforementioned Boho chic and the offspring of Russian oligarchs let loose for the weekend from their paid Oxbridge admissions. The one saving grace was the cocktails, which ebbed and flowed all night to the point where I had to ditch the concept of driving home in favour of a Scooterman™. The star of the evening, why, a porn star! – The Porn Star Martini, an expertly tended concoction of Cariel vanilla vodka, Passoá passion-fruit liqueur, passion-fruit purée, vanilla sugar and citrus syrup, served with a shot of Champagne; created by legendary mixologist Douglas Ankrah and worthy of a bartender’s ‘Toscar’. In a place where everything is style over substance, the service slightly archaic and the food not worthy of any particular mention, the eventuality of great bartending proved that even in the bleakest of social environments, you can still conjure up a great night out. There are plenty of better eateries in the vicinity, but if u relish mixing with the trendy set and want a good night’s retox [sic], just aim for the bar after a meal elsewhere.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 0.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 0.0

Restaurant Bitch 26 March 2010

Go here for cocktails and ambiance – it's buzzy and full of beautiful people. But whatever you do, don't eat here. The food is terrible (not to mention overpriced) and the waiters are surly.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 1.0

Tanya D. gold reviewer 19 November 2009

I am still yet to understand how Beach Blanket Babylon justifies its prices, they are always £25 for most mains which to me is identical to what you pay in Michelin star restaurants and their food is very hit and miss and not very interesting. Years ago they did offer more eclectic modern European fare whereas now its shifted to boring English and a hamburger?! Scallops with asparagus and a citrus butter had zero taste and at £13, were the most embarrassingly minute, tasteless things Id ever encountered, what a rip off! The main course of monk fish was delicious but the spinach that came with it was frightfully salty. Overall, we all found our starters over-priced and boring. The main courses fared better but the chateaubriand was over-cooked, asked for medium and it was very close to well done. Their cocktails have alwasy been horribly over-priced, averaging about £12 but they are delicious so I would suggest that if you want to go and see the restaurant, just go for a couple of cocktails and head somewhere else for better food for your money. Oh, and what is this ridiculous thing of adding a cover charge of about £2 a head for bread and butter?! Im pretty sure that before you give people something that you are supposed to inform them beforehand that they will be charged. I would suggest that as punishment for this little trick since your waitstaff dont inform you that you remove the automatically added service charge.

Food & Drink: 0.0

Service: 0.0

Atmosphere: 0.0

Value: 0.0

Alex B. 14 November 2009

One of the worst dining experiences I have had in a long time.This restaurant made me so angry that I am not even going to waste my time writing down and ranting about the experience. Here is a summary. -Maître d’ was patronizing and condescending. -Waiters were argumentative and rude. One of the waiters argued with my partner about what she had seen on the menu (my partner was indeed correct) and then seemed indignant that it must be a new addition and no-one had ‘bothered to inform him’. -The restaurant messed up out booking time – 9:30pm, claiming we had to sit down at 9:00pm as the kitchen would be closing soon. Utter nonsense as we saw people being seated up to 10:30pm. -Asking to have butter with the bread seemed to be a problem. -Food was bland and lacking flavour. -Service was abysmal and un-attentive. I don't recall out wine being topped up on a single occasion. -Bill was incorrect and we were charged for items (cocktails) that we never ordered. You could not even pay me to return this place. Incredibly disappointing. Avoid at all costs.

Food & Drink: 1.0

Service: 0.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 1.0

Sioda 27 October 2009

BBB (Bad Bad BAD) Since my last visit it has had a facelift which is OK but nothing dramatic or even that noticable except it is brighter. Since my last visit it appears the menu has turned into a diner so if you like burgers or sausages and mash at exorbinate prices than look no further. If you like inattentive service and waiters that give you the impression that they are way too cool to be serving tables than this is the place for you. If you like 2 maiins, 1 dessert, 1 glass of wine and 2 coffees costing £90 than look no further, you have found your ideal restaurant! And to top it off they no longer take American Express – IN NOTTING HILL! hello anyone home? they look the money but they are definitely only worth pennies.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

Lisa-Jane M. 30 June 2009

We went to BBB on a Saturday night for a friends hen do. There were 11 of us and we had a table upstairs in the private chapel section. I have to say we had a fantastic experience and they looked after us so well. The service was fantastic and very friendly, it was a very hot night and unfortunately the air conditioning had broken, which they did explain to us, but opened the windows when we asked and brought an endless supply of iced tap water to the table, replacing the jugs as soon as they were empty. Food was lovely – not huge portions and not mind blowing/ground breaking but perfect for a large group, and service was prompt without being over-bearing. We had a table reserved in the main bar afterwards for drinks, but as it had been so hot the manager came to us and insisted on getting a table ready for us in the private members dining room, and then getting a round of free drinks to apologise for the heat. They didn't have to do any of this, but went out of their way to make sure we had a special night – the whole party were still talking about the experience the next day! Yes it's posey, yes it's over the top – for for a fun and very glamorous night out you can't go wrong and I'm sure all of us will be back.

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