"Balans is a great addition to Soho's lively scene"Review Rating: Reviewed by Directionless
An all-day all-night feast, Balans Soho is part of a small and select chain, nestling in the most cosmopolitan areas of London, including Earls Court, Kensington and Westfields. Balans also moonlight over in the US with a number of locations cruising the nightlife of Maiami. The key thing to remember about Balans Soho is it is open all hours, quite literally all hours.
On those all-important Friday and Saturday nights, it’s possible to settle down to a table of food any time between 7.30am and 6am the following morning. A bit of a hidden secret for those wandering Soho after the final Sambuca shot wondering what to do next. During the week, the hours are marginally more sober, spanning 7.30am until 5am, and Sundays sees a very modest 7.30am until 2 on Monday morning. Licensing laws do prohibit alcohol after 3 in the morning, but the serving of food remains strong through out the night, perfect for those looking to rebuild after a raucous night on the town.
Balans gears itself for a mix of pre-theatre, post theatre, breakfast and afternoon customers, as well as the night owls. Due to this, it sits as a diverse hybrid of restaurant, bar and café. Possibly better for those after a casual meal rather than a cosy dinner, the quality of food and drink is none the less satisfying and the choice is wider than a lot of the surrounding contempories.
Starters range from crab cakes with mango papaya, salsa and chipotle remoulade to shredded duck spring rolls with cucumber ribbons to beetroot cured salmon with dill mustard.
Mains jump between Thai curries, ducks, steaks, burgers and pork bellies. There is also a fairly extensive seafood menu, including shrimp linguine, salmon fishcakes, battered haddock and a seafood jambalaya of mussels, squid, shrimp and clams. The sea bass is particularly good, coming with crushed new potatoes and a chive butter sauce.
The portions are generous, although slightly heavy on carbs and sauce, perhaps reflecting the cravings of the later crowds. As reasonable priced foods go, it is a cheerful selection that though not mouth wateringly gourmet does the job and certainly doesn’t leave you wondering what it was you paid for.
Deserts include brownies, New York cheesecake and a spectacular and highly recommended raspberry ripple sundae with meringue, raspberry and vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and chopped nuts. And there is no skimping on portion size.
Balans is slightly renowned for the cocktail selection, and it would certainly fill the gap for a pre-drink post drink stop off, especially if you fancied combining with food. The wine list isn’t bad either.
Perfect for getting in the mood to go out, having a raucous sit down with a group of friends, or as an alternative to the darker, louder cocktail bars, Balans is a great addition to Soho.
Directionless reviewed Balans on Mon 08 Oct 2012