Tried & Tested

Restaurant check: The Balcon London

20 Mar 2016 by BusinessTraveller
BACKGROUND The Balcon is within the Sofitel St James, and offers all-day dining. The recently appointed Chef Matt Greenwood has introduced a new menu of fusion and French inspired dishes. Matt’s extensive experience is evident in the menu, from his first job at his family's fish and chip shop to Peter Gordon’s Providores his love of fusion shines through. THE RESTAURANT The entrance is on Pall Mall and through revolving doors into the dining room, modelled on a classic French brassiere, with high ceilings, dark leather banquettes and tall arched windows making the room very elegant. Two spiral staircases lead up to the Champagne store which is a feature of the room and gives the restaurant its name. Its simple and stylish décor looks very French, crisp white linen and glistening silverware set the scene. The Balcon London We were warmly greeted and promptly shown to our seats, we were on a raised area that gave us a great view of the restaurant and all the comings and goings. At 7pm the restaurant was about half full but soon filled up which it needed as its big high ceiling could have made this place feel empty and cold. Our waiter left us with menus to peruse and explained a few things; some have symbols to denote a light low calorie meal, what was gluten free etc. There is a surprisingly good choice, whatever your dietary needs. THE DRINKS The wine list is well chosen and compact, all wines are available by the glass plus a rather nice cocktail list with some interesting drinks:
  • SUNFLOWER Ketel One Vodka infused with Anichai tea, Drambuie, pear, carrot and lime juice, simple syrup, cardamom bitters, prosecco
  • CAMILLE  Hibiki 12 year old whisky, lime juice, St James berry syrup, egg white, plum bitters
Both £16 AND perfect as an aperitif. With some good advice and taking into account what we were eating, we plumped for a 2014 Viognier de Pennautier (£23). THE FOOD The well presented one-sheet menu has a great choice of classic bistro fare with a fusion twist, and you can choose from al la carte or try the eight course tasting menu. To start I chose the twice-baked goats cheese soufflé with pine nuts, mint and apple sabayon, the lovely tangy crisp salad was perfect with the soft fluffy soufflé. My only complaint would have been that the soufflé wasn’t very warm. We also tried the grilled scallops, boudin noir, apple croquette and carrot pickle. Perfectly cooked scallops, nice and caramalised with lovely textures from the pickle and croquettes. As a main I tried the Guinea fowl "au vin", smoked mash and lardons (£21) - it was a hearty winter dish, the tender guinea fowl just fell of the bone, and the fluffy mashed potatoes had a subtle smoky flavour. It came with a little mini pan of roasted pearl onions, root veg and crispy lardons, a classic dish. The Balcon London Our other main was crispy skinned sea bream, clams, samphire, salsify, laverbread and buerre blanc (£21) which was also very good, perfectly cooked fish, plenty of tender salsify with a delicious creamy butter sauce. These to me were classic French bistro dishes, there were a few fusion twists here and there on the menu but would have been nice to see more of this. From our vantage point I had spotted the impressive dessert trolley, not in anyway like the 70’s array of black forest gateaux, bowls of fruit salad and the likes but instead a mobile patisserie window full of boutique style pastries. You can select a few and share the plate or choose from the menu of other desserts. I couldn’t resist Profiterole with banana caramel, vanilla ice cream, hazelnuts and Frangelico ganache and it didn’t disappoint, beautiful crisp pastry with an amazing banana caramel drizzle that was perfect with the chocolate and hazelnut. The Balcon London As a lighter option we tried from the menu the yogurt pannacotta with raspberry jelly (both £7). It looked so pretty with little cubes of tangy jelly and raspberries strewn over the top. A superb dinner, hearty portions, good ingredients and visually beautiful dishes. THE SERVICE We couldn’t fault the service, friendly, relaxed and just the right amount of attention. They were well informed and charming. VERDICT A really elegant restaurant that felt very special, great location and the perfect place for a weekend lunch when shopping or a pre theatre dinner. The food is of a very high standard with impeccable presentation that tastes as good as it looks. OPENING HOURS
  • Monday to Friday 1100 -2300
  • Saturday 1130 - 2300
  • Sunday 1130 - 2200
CONTACT thebalconlondon.com; tel: (0)207 389 7820 Annie Harris
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