Balans Soho Society

 23rd March 2016
Balans Soho Society

Change is inevitable and can sometimes be quite a scary thing, (David Guest is a perfect example). But every now and then, change can actually mean a big improvement and a somewhat liberating experience and that’s exactly what’s happened at Balans Soho Society.

 

Everyone one from the LGBT community has a “Balans story”. From the late night sessions after stumbling out of The Shadow Lounge at 3am to continue the party to the obligatory ‘first date’ meal. Balans has always had a special place in the LGBT community's heart. So, you can imagine the upset and national mourning (OK, we might be over exaggerating a tad here), that took place when Balans closed its doors and re-emerged as a completely different restaurant. Well, we’re here to reassure you that it’s not as different as you may think.

 

Balans Soho Society is in essence Balans, but grown up. We don’t see this as a change, but a huge improvement and after this review, you’ll see why.

 

As you walk in to Balans Soho Society, you notice the improvements straight away. Everything looks a lot cleaner and slicker and dare we say it, it looks like a real restaurant! Walking past the bar, we notice a few familiar Soho faces as well as some diners who just look thrilled to be out in public (got to love the West End tourists). We were taken to our table in the back and noticed that the whole place was packed out. Ok, this was a Thursday at 7pm, but this stayed the case until we left. Two tables down we noticed some friends of ours, so obviously BSS hasn’t lost its loyal clientele, if anything it seems to have won them over.

 

Our brilliant waiter, Tony, was on hand to greet us and offer us water and bread as soon as we sat down. Tony is quite possibly one of the friendliest and welcoming members of staff I’ve ever encountered and was incredibly informative about the menu. Now we don’t know about you, but before dinner, we think there’s nothing better than getting a Pornstar inside you to build up your appetite (were talking Martinis here you disgusting lot…although?). We have to admit, BSS still makes the best Pornstar Martini in town. We ordered our food and let the good times roll.

 

To start we had the Chicken Thrice-Fried with shichimi mayo. Two delicious southern styled golden pieces of chicken with a crunchy coating whilst still being tender and slightly moist in the middle. These were incredible. Served with grilled padron peppers and a wedge of lemon, you could create a whole new taste explosion. The Cornish Scallops with artichoke puree crisp black pudding and pancetta was something out of this world. The hearty black pudding beefed up the light and delicate scallops whilst the saltyness of the pancetta enhanced the flavours of each single component. This is serious cooking that we would never usually expect to see from the old Balans

 

For our main course we treated ourselves to Red Curry with Chicken and Egg Noodles. Yes this is the same dish that used to be on the old menu but it’s still one of our favourites. Big chunky pieces of peppers and onions tossed in to a nest of noodles with grilled chicken and an aromatic Thai Red Curry sauce. The dish itself is aromatic and plentiful with a slight heat to taste, but fear not as there are slithers of cucumber to cool and refresh the palate. We also went in for the Rump of Yorkshire Lamb with roasted salsify, sweetbreads, shallot puree, roast shallot and marjoram jus. If all Yorkshire rumps are this good, we’re booking a one-way ticket to Emmerdale Farm! The portion of the lamb was very generous. The lamb was cooked to perfection and seasoned beautifully. One of the best rumps we’ve tucked in to for a long time. The sweetbreads were meaty treats which married up perfectly with the sweetness of the shallot puree. The whole dish just worked incredibly well which was evident as we mopped up the last drop of jus from the plate.

 

Like the brave souls we are, we soldiered on through to order a pudding even though we were on the verge of exploding. Trying to choose a pudding is a bit like ‘Sophie’s Choice’. Wait not “a bit”. It’s EXACTLY like ‘Sophie’s Choice’. We were torn between the Warm Doughnuts with cinnamon apple compote with whipped cream and the Banoffee Pie with toffee sauce. Both healthy options as they contained fruit, but alas we went for the Banoffee Pie. Now, unfortunately for Balans Soho Society, the OutSavvy foodie we sent along to review actually grew up in the same village the Banoffee Pie was invented and knew the inventor of the dish (The Hungry Monk, Jevington – Nigel Mackenzie), so if anyone knew how to judge a good Banoffee, it would be us. Our verdict? ORGASMIC! An indulgent, buttery and crumbly biscuit base lathered in toffee and thick chunks of banana with thick set cream mounted on top. This is what a pudding should be, pure unadulterated pleasure on a plate.

 

Balans Soho Society has done something we never thought could really happen. It’s joined the league of quality restaurants offering imaginative cocktails, flawless service and seriously high quality food. But don’t fret, dear reader, as you’ll still be able to find the old classics like the Infamous Balans Burger and the late night feed of Eggs Benedict as well as some welcomed new additions. As for the world renowned booths out back, well they’re still there (hurrah), but the ‘Bo Derek’ beads that everyone (yes even you) used to put on their heads as a wig have gone…well, have been relocated. They now form part of the light fittings in each booth. A nice homage in our eyes. And although it’s become a bit more serious, it doesn’t mean that it’s still not fun. It is open to 6am after all and we all know what colourful characters are in Soho late at night.

 

So as you can see from this review, Balans hasn’t really gone in spirit. It’s just grown up and improved to become Balans Soho Society.


written on Wednesday 23rd March 2016
Where is it?

60 - 62 Old Compton StreetSohoLondon W1D 4UG
Back Hard Rock Cafe Next Back Counter Lounge
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