*Please note that this was written before I turned vegan in April of this year*
Anywhere with the motto “too much of a good thing is a good thing” is absolutely going straight to the top of my ‘to visit’ list.
It’s no secret that Londoners love a brunch, so in order to stand out on a cluttered brunch scene, you’ve got to offer something a little bit different.
Firstly, if you think that the opening hours on the website are incorrect, you’re wrong. Balans is a bar as well as a restaurant. On a Friday and Saturday, Balans is open from 7.30am alllll the way through to 6am.
Balans Soho Society prides itself on being all about indulgence and shock value. They celebrate the rogue, the rascal and the reprobate. I tottered down to the newly revamped Soho branch to find out what all the fuss is about.
Pic from: https://www.pallmallbarbers.com/gentleman-interests/londons-best-late-night-bars-night-tube/
Unsuspecting from the outside, you’ll push through a heavy, plush curtain at the entrance to be greeted by a huge room filled with mismatched lamps, stylish seating and a welcoming waitress. When I arrived, the restaurant was packed and there was a buzzy atmosphere in the front room. I was seated in the room at the back which is a little quieter and more relaxed.
The decor is a mix of classy & elegant, unusual & confronting. Sexually charged paintings have been slapped on top of beautiful, gothic wallpaper. Sadly I couldn’t get snaps of them as there were people enjoying their brunch underneath them! Whilst the whole place has been designed to feel a little uncomfortable, strangely, it feels kind of homely.
I had chosen to visit at the respectable hour of 10am to take some of the brunch menu items for a spin. You can opt for the boozy option but I decided to start my Saturday morning with a coffee. A soy latte is my usual poison and this one hit the spot.
The menu hasn’t been strictly designed for vegetarians but there are quite a few interesting options to choose from including a cheese omelette, smashed avocado bruschetta and house-baked granola.
I opted for the ‘Eggs Florentine’ with spinach, poached eggs and hollandaise on an English muffin, the ‘Eggs In Hell’ which is the house version of a shakshuka; poached eggs in a tomato chilli sauce with Balans potatoes and parmesan, the ‘Pancakes’ topped with a variety of berries, warm maple butter and maple syrup and a side of ‘Kale’ to try to balance out aforementioned options.
The ‘Eggs in Hell’ was my standout dish and I would liken it to a combination of a shakshouka and a patatas bravas dish. The eggs are perfectly cooked, as are the bed of potatoes they sit upon. I like that they’ve added potatoes to make this a little more substantial as sometimes I find myself wanting something a bit more hearty in a shakshouka dish. The chunky salsa-like sauce is tangy and the spice lingers on the back of your throat. It has a beautiful flavour, combining a delicate sweetness with just the right amount of heat. I enquired about the parmesan prior to ordering and was informed by my waiter that this is vegetarian friendly which is great news because this adds an extra layer of sharpness which compliments the whole dish.
The eggs florentine dish had its ups and downs. The eggs were very well cooked and the texture of both the eggs, the muffin and the sauce was great but I found that it lacked in flavour slightly. I thought that the spinach and the hollandaise sauce would have benefited from a bit more seasoning.
The kale dish, for me, was a little watery and whilst Chris really enjoyed the combination of ginger, garlic and chilli, they weren’t quite to my taste.
Lastly, we moved on to the sweet portion of the meal – The pancake dish. This was absolutely delicious. The pancakes tasted like a mix between a cupcake and a sponge cake. They were super soft, fluffy and thick with a beautiful amount of sweetness. The maple syrup mixed with the fruits gave it some moisture as well as an extra layer of sweetness which worked perfectly with the whole dish.
All in all, Balans Soho Society is a stylish, comfortable place to grab a spot of brunch. You could be content coming here with your partner or a friend, and you could just as easily settle into one of the booths for the day with a group of friends and some bottomless prosecco. The portions are big and the atmosphere is relaxed yet vibrant. Some of the brunch items are stronger than others but generally, I enjoyed my meal and would go back.
– Eggs In Hell