Balans No.60 in Soho – Review
As one of the oldest and best-known venues in Soho, I was excited to be invited to try out the menu at Balans No. 60. A quick skip and a jump down Old Compton Street from the first Balans at No.34, No. 60 is known as “the big one”. Having been opened in 1993 the restaurant has been frequented by a cast of stars, including Lady Gaga and Amy Winehouse, and so it’s no wonder that the site is a well-loved familiar face on Old Compton Street, and with a restaurant serving until 6am on a Friday & Saturday (5am Wednesday and Thursday) it truly is a place for great food at all hours! The vibe is casual chic, where anything goes, and whatever time you’re there, from morning to the early hours, you can guarantee a friendly server, a great cocktail and food worthy of its reputation.
Balans ensures that no diner, however late, will miss the great taste and love for food that the chefs have to offer. From midnight the menu switches, but with no disappointment, you can still get a “late night breakfast”, pancakes, sandwiches or the classic mac & cheese. And in a venue as legendary as this, you can never be sure who you’ll be sitting next to!
As an (early) diner, our 7pm dinner was a little tamer. Although we did start with their world-famous Porn Star Martini – having been given the recipe from the inventor of the drink himself, the bar staff stay true to its traditions and serve it with a shot of Champagne, never prosecco. And it did indeed lived up to its reputation.
Sitting in the booth a few tables in, I could see the eccentricities of fabulous Soho pass me by, and had it been a little warmer, the street tables would have offered the perfect immersion of this famous London district. For starters, I was presented with a Torched Baron Bigod – that’s posh speak for warm delicious brie cheese accompanied with Korean spiced honey and handmade linseed crackers, and this was definitely a stand out for me. The melting cheese with the sauce was divine, the only disappointment, being that they didn’t serve an entire block of Brie like this as a main!! Gluttony springs to mind!
I followed that, although it was always going to be tough, with a Butternut Squash Girella, essentially one rather large ravioli served with mushroom, spinach and tomato sauce. It was definitely a more interesting take on a traditional pasta dish, and the presentation was impressive. However, I did have a little food envy of my companion’s steak and chips, which was cooked beautifully and served with a side of Mac & Cheese.
Having washed this down with a few glasses of the house white wine, which again, did not disappoint, there was no room left for dessert, but I will be back to try one of the many delicious-looking desserts… I had my eye on the burnt banana bread and the quirky-sounding cornflake icecream.
In the heart of Soho, on one of London’s most famous streets, you can do no wrong stopping for some food at Balans No. 60 whatever time of day (or night!).
Address: 60-62 Old Compton St, London, W1D 4UG
Written by Polly Robin