I’m one of those people who loves to scour the e-pages of Time Out and The Londonist during the week, searching for the newest restaurants to try in a bid to expand my palate and feel all cultured and stuff. However once the weekend appears, I find myself at the same local spots, ordering the same food I always do! Anyone else like this?
Well no more! As part of my ongoing campaign to ‘get a life and go out’, I thought it would be cool to start a little review section of places I go/eat/do stuff, and what better way to start than with one of my favourite subjects: food.
I was absolutely delighted to be invited to try the brand new Victoria branch of the Balans Soho Society; – known for their pre-theatre dinners – which is the new next-door neighbour to the Wagamamas in the Cardinal Place Plaza (right next to where Hamilton is currently playing; ya cannae miss it!). Having a brief browse of the website beforehand gave me the impression that the restaurant had a bit of a playful, cheeky, Devil-may-care attitude towards their food and it was definitely discernable from having a glance at their extensive menu, which covers breakfast, brunch and dinner.
Upon entering the restaurant we were greeted warmly by our waiter for the evening (Elias) and shown to our table which was a lovely little corner booth. We just so happened to visit the restaurant during Halloween week, and Balans certainly didn’t disappoint when it came to dressing up the aesthetics of the venue! From colour-coordinated orange and black bar stools to fake webs and pumpkin candlelights on every table, Balans certainly went all out to get into the Halloween spirit, and the attention to detail was such a delight to see!
I ordered a full three-course meal (I made sure not to eat during the day as I find myself getting fuller quicker these days…must be the old age tbh tbh tbh) and genuinely spent a good ten minutes trying to decide what to have, as everything looks amazing and so reasonably priced! From squid-ink cakes, Cornish crab linguine and chicken enchiladas to fish and chips and Tacos, there is something on the menu to suit everyone’s palates.
I started off with the chickpeas starter which came with falafel, houmous, harissa yoghurt and flatbread to start, which was beautifully plated up and presented. The chickpeas had a delicious, crunchy texture and really brought out the flavours of the harissa within the yoghurt. The falafels were light and airy in texture which was a good thing retrospectively, as it would have been a bit too much combining a dense falafel with an even more dense yoghurt.
As my main, I opted for the ‘Infamous Balans Burger’; a UNIT of a burger consisting of cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickles and red onion, and which came with double-dipped chunky chips. The combination of the sweet red onion and the sweetness of the brioche bun appeased my sweet tooth nicely, with the bacon cutting through the palate with a sharp, salty aftertaste. I was so stuffed at that point that I couldn’t even finish the coleslaw, but that too was also really good! It’s an absolute UNIT of a meal and I can definitely see why it’s ‘infamous‘; it’s good. It’s really good. My burger was cooked just how I liked it (medium-well) and the fries were fresh and seasoned well.
Onto dessert! I decided to keep it light and ordered two scoops of vanilla clotted ice cream to share. You can’t really go wrong with a classic flavour like vanilla, and the ice-cream was incredibly rich, yet light in texture.
Throughout the evening, we were treated exceptionally well by Elias and his team that evening and thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere. Our courses were on time and the service was incredible. The restaurant is absolutely HUGE as well, with loads of private booths and would be a great place for a first date, or a company lunch, or a place to meet with friends, or for anything really. I’m such a fan already and will definitely be coming back!
For more info, to find other branches and to reserve a table, click here.
*I was invited to a meal in exchange for an impartial, honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own!*