Balans restaurants seem to naturally adapt to the area of London in which they are located. Chiswick has a young family vibe, Ken High Street is cool and hip and Soho, is, well, hilariously camp and fun and flirty. I visited the Soho branch on a weekday evening and joined the throng of lively bohemians dining and laughing casually over a drink. The preened and pretty waiters zoom around the restaurant serving everyone with super speed and efficiency.
The menu offers a selection of classic British and American favourites and some more exotic recipes. We started with tomato and mozzarella salad and crispy calamari. Both were very fresh and flavoursome, generous portions that arrived promptly from the kitchen.
For mains my burger was massive, I couldn’t eat more than half of it and I felt pathetic handing my plate sheepishly back to the waiter as he sympathetically assured me that no one finishes it. The burger itself was average, not bad not good, the meat was relatively bland, the bun was dry and the toppings rather limp. The fillet steak went down well, my guest triumphantly finished the whole piece of meat, licking his lips and proclaiming its attributes: rich taste, lovely texture and delicious sauce. With portion sizes so big, three courses is an impossible challenge but we attempted a dessert between us… the chocolate brownie was very chocolatey, served with contrasting ice-cream. There were other tempting choices on the pudding menu but I let my guest choose and, being a typical boy, he chose the brownie.
It is the cocktails which really star at Soho Balans, and it is this aspect made our visit so enjoyable. The staff seem very passionate and knowledgeable about mixology and are happy to advise even the most indecisive of customers (me). We tried several different drinks, the Pornstar Martini and Caiprinha were very good but it was my Red Lotus (vodka, lychee liqueur, cranberry juice) that was the most memorable… a bright red fruity and fiery drink.
The food at Balans Soho was a little disappointing, but with such show-stopping cocktails, it seems to sell itself instead as a drinks destination.
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