This is not a place where they do things by half measure. This café, restaurant, bar, and member’s establishment has a distinctly naughty atmosphere about it, which is good if you’re in the mood to party and listen to a bit of house music with your dinner but probably not so good if it’s a Monday night and the cocktail sirens are calling!
The décor is a mish mash of vintage and de-constructed glam, think cosy charcoal hued banquet sofas, industrial chic wood and iron tables, designer wallpaper, velvet curtains, naughty paintings and a few random pieces of brick-a-brac thrown in for good measure.
Balans Soho Society’s menu is overseen by Executive Chef Crispin Chetwynd, a renowned chef who has toured the globe with Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson and Pink Floyd. The seasonally-changing menu highlights the best local produce from Ginger Pig and H. Forman & Son (the oldest smokehouse in London).
Menu options at Balans Soho Society - Enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner in the heart of Soho
Balans serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, so there are plenty of opportunities to visit. Breakfast options include everything from the Soho Full English (£9.00), Kedgeree (£9.00), pancakes (£7.50), French toast (£7.50) and house-baked granola with berries, yoghurt and Kent honey (£6.00). Brunch options include The High Society eggs Benedict (fresh lobster, avocado and bacon) (£12.00) and eggs in hell (two poached eggs in a tomato and chilli sauce with potatoes and Parmesan) (£7.00).
Light bites include burnt aubergine baba ghanoush peppered with pomegranate seeds and sumac; thrice-fried chicken with shichimi mayonnaise (£6.00); and charred squid and chorizo with fried potatoes and piquillo peppers (£7.50). The hearty mains include everything from the infamous Balans burger (£12.50) to grilled halloumi on olive mash with cherry tomatoes and lemon honey dressing (£11.00) and skillet-roasted chicken with farro, fig and pine nuts (£15.00).
We've been to Balans on several occasions as we love its cheeky atmosphere. On this particular occasion, we decided to try something different. For our starters we had the seared 'melt in your mouth' yellow fin tuna in a chilli, garlic, ginger, soy and pickled cucumber marinade (£8.00), which was simple yet delicious. Next up was the proveleta (£7.00), which is simply baked Provolone cheese and cherry tomatoes on sourdough toast, which was a bit like a posh version of a margarita pizza.
For our mains I had the 12oz sirloin steak with double-dipped chips and bourbon BBQ sauce (£25.00). The steak was juicy and perfectly cooked with a smoky, chargrilled flavour. My husband opted for the cod special of the day - a generous portion of cod that was fresh and flaky - just how great fish should be.
Cocktails take front and centre here. Here you’ll find everything from the porn star (Absolut Blue, vanilla syrup, passion fruit puree and a Champagne shot) and the elderflower Collins (Broker’s gin, St. Germaine, apple); to cheekily named cocktails such as the slap on the rum (Redleg spiced rum, pineapple, mint and ginger beer) and the Society teddy bear (Buffalo Trace, cinnamon, cranberry) served in a honey bear bottle.
During our visit we tried the non-alcoholic mocktail coco Rita (a non-alcoholic drink comprised of coconut water, lime purée, agave nectar)(£4.30) and the passion fruit and pineapple swizzle (Ron Abueli rum, pineapple, lemon and prosecco) (£9.50), which is basically a holiday in a glass.
Although we were absolutely stuffed after dinner, our friendly waitress insisted that we make room for a dessert. Indulgent dessert options include the High Society mess (for two) (£10.00), sticky toffee pudding (£6.00), a chocolate tart with Jack Daniel’s ice-cream (£6.00) or banoffee pie. We opted for the banoffee pie, a serious slab of banana, cream and toffee pie covered in thick whipped cream and drizzled with caramel. Although tasty, this belt-busting dessert was pretty heavy going even for two people sharing.
As a quote on their menu reads 'let us devour, imbibe and frolic’ – we can’t think of anywhere else where this is more apt. Keep up the fun.
Food and drink: ★★★
Staff attentiveness/friendliness: ★★★★★
Balans Soho Society
60-62 Old Compton Street