Does Balans Clapham hit the high expectations set by its Soho sister?
Balans in Soho has been a long time favourite of mine. Nestled comfortably on Old Compton Street it is the perfect West End spot for any variety of different occasions; catch-ups with the boys, mothers day lunch, birthday meals, first dates or just a couple if after work cocktails – Balans caters for them all.
So when I found out that they were adding to their existing selection of eateries by opening Balans Soho Society Clapham right by Clapham Common station in the spot previously occupied by Honky Tonk I was naturally excited. What better than having one of my favourite go-to restaurants a hop skip and a jump from where I live.
But has Balans Clapham been able to translate their winning formula of fab food, creative cocktails and super service South of The River?
Put bluntly, Yes.
I popped along for dinner with a group of friends a couple of weeks ago on a Wednesday night and despite the fact that it had only recently opened there wasn’t an empty chair to be seen throughout the restaurant. The conversation was bubbling every which way creating that familiar Balans atmosphere, hitting the perfect note between relaxed and formal. A place that you can go and feel like you’re having a fabulous evening out, but whilst being comfortable and relaxed at the same time.
The cocktail menu was as delicious as ever with a nice combination of new concoctions such as the Hazy Shades of Grey (earl grey infused Broker’s gin, lavender, champagne) and classic favourites. I kicked things off with a Margarita which definitely packed a punch and then moved on to their Porn Star Martini’s which were so delicious I had three. We then moved onto the Prosecco, so needless to say we were all a bit unsteady on our feet by the time we left.
The layout really works feeling bright and airy yet intimate at the same time. The tables are close enough to each other to give the place an energetic feel, yet far enough away so that you feel like you have privacy. I think that this balancing act is the secret to Balans success – allowing it to cater to the tastes of a broad variety of different people. We were lucky enough to sit in one of the coveted booths nestled away at the edge allowing us to have a good lively chat without disturbing other diners, but still being able to people watch when we wanted to!
There’s a great combination of food – a mix of British classics and more exotic affair. You can see the full menu by clicking here. I definitely made the right choice of starter with the Jerk Chicken Samosa’s which inspired food envy from my fellow diners when arrived, although to be fair they had nothing to worry about with the Seared Scallops and Cornish Crab going down a treat with them too.
For the main course I went for the 10 oz Sirloin which was cooked to perfection at Medium Rare, super juicy and delicious especially when drizzled with the sweet bourbon bbq sauce it was served with. It was also a lot bigger than I was expecting and there was no chance I was leaving hungry, but I still managed to find room for a dessert of Vanilla Buttermilk Panna Cotta with poached rhubarb to round things off nicely!
The service was superb with our waitress judging the table perfectly, providing knowledgable recommendations whilst bantering at just the right level which made for an extremely enjoyable and relaxed evening.
So will I be ditching the Soho Balans for the younger model? Not quite, they will have to put up with sharing me I’m afraid. I can definitely see myself spending many an afternoon or evening nestled in the bosom of Balans, Clapham – but that doesn’t mean I’ll be forgetting my first love and will definitely be spending time with her as well.
If you’re a Balans virgin then make sure you give the new one a go and check out the other branches too, and if you are already familiar with the brand then I promise you won’t be disappointed with the latest addition to the family.
You can get more information by visiting their website here.