I'm always looking for new places to eat in London and having seen this restaurant numerous times, I had never actually ventured in, until now.
Balans Soho Society, rather cleverly tagged the 'haven for the convivial' has outlets all over London. I was lucky enough to dine at the Old Compton Street venue last weekend and what a delight it was.
As soon as you walk in, you hit an atmosphere of upbeat, theatrical happiness. The decoration certainly gives this restaurant a late night 'speak easy' feel mixed with an actors den after a late night show.
Our table was pre-booked and we were greeted politely and efficiently by the staff. As we walked past the bar we could see the mixologist busy preparing cocktails and he never once stopped: a lot of cocktails were consumed that day it seems!
On each table we found a little wooden treasure box full of condiments, matches, and a little note card.
The note card, containing their manifesto, matched their branding perfectly. In fact, the whole restaurant harmonised with their slogan, branding and style. It is obvious a lot of time and effort had gone into the small and finer details to make eating at Balans Soho Society, not just a meal out but also an experience.
I started my meal with a strawberry and chamomile mocktini, which was deliciously refreshing. Chamomile is such a subtle flavour whilst strawberry can be quite robust, however the blend was spot on and each flavour was allowed to shine.
For my main course I chose classic club. A toasted sourdough bread sandwich with grilled chicken, bacon, gem lettuce, tomato, avocado mayo, fries and a side salad. The meal was well presented on a wooden chopping board and the portion size was excellent and good value for money. Sourdough bread is a hard thing to toast, if you under toast it, it can become warm and slightly wishy washy in texture, if you over toast it, it becomes so hard you could use it as a weapon. However Balans secured the perfect club toastie. The chicken, I am glad to say was chicken breast, lightly grilled and not thin sliced sandwich chicken, topped with thick salty smoky bacon. This sandwich certainly counts as a main meal and I admit, I ate every last mouthful.
Throughout the meal, our server was friendly and attentive and topped up our water, free of charge, every 10 minutes or so.
The restaurant was busy but the staff pulled together and not once were we left waiting for food or service - a mark of an excellent restaurant. The staff seemed genuinely happy to work there and this feeling circulated throughout the entire restaurant, allowing the customers to sit back, relax and enjoy their food without worrying about bad service or lengthy waits for food.
Dessert was a homemade sticky toffee pudding, toffee sauce and salted caramel ice cream. The pudding was rich, luxurious tasting with a melt in the mouth light texture. The sauce was, as the name would suggest, sweet and decadent. The ice cream was creamy with slithers of salted caramel flowing through it, complementing the dish but also flavourful in it's own right.
The music was quite loud but I have to say, I really enjoyed the mix of music played and it added to the vibe. It wasn't so loud that you couldn't hear people talking but it was just loud enough to enhance the lively bustle and atmosphere.
Having the job I have, I do get to eat in some of London's top restaurants on a very frequent basis. I have to say, Balans Soho Society has become one of my favourites. From the restaurant decor and branding to the food and the staff, if you want a place to eat where you can just have a good time, with good food and at a good price, then I cannot recommend Balans Soho Society enough. From start to finish, a good time was had by all, and being of a convivial nature, I am pleased to say, I found my 'haven'. I'll be back very soon.