Get ready to ‘bear’ all at Balans Soho Society, High Street Kensington
05 Jun 2016
We were slightly concerned that Balans Soho Society Kensington was for, unlike us, outlandish folks only, with mismatched paintings and garish walls inviting the eccentric, the absurd and oddballs for a bit of a tipple or late night feast. Throwing caution to the wind however, we left our expectations on the high street and embarked on an evening of Balans fun.
A leafless tree wins strangest centre-piece of the year award, demanding the attention of your eye in the heart of the restaurant. It is the work of Simon Costin, who created fashion shows for the late Alexander McQueen. Candle wax is allowed to flood the bar and there is a zoo of curiosities about the place.
Unlike other ‘chain’ restaurants, it’s the little details that make it interesting and definitely more of a bar vibe than your standard chain that is regurgitated up and down the country. There was an atmosphere that managed to linger, even though it was a Monday night so quieter than your standard. Is it Wednesday that’s the new Friday now?
Being huge Bourbon fans, we went for The Society Teddy Bear cocktail (£9.50), standing our masculinity to the test when it came served in a teddy bear cup, come to think of it we miss that little guy and his tummy full of Buffalo Trace Bourbon, vanilla, cinnamon and cranberry. If alcohol isn’t your thing then the mocktail menu is just as good with a refreshing Ginger Temple; a mixture of fresh lime, grenadine and ginger beer.
After being teased by the delivery of food to the table in the centre, we couldn’t wait to get stuck in, Chicken Thrice-Fried with an intense shichimi mayonnaise and Calamari with Aioli was a more than a fantastic starter (and probably could be enjoyed as a light snack).
The Infamous Balans Burger (£13) with cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, dill pickle and red onion had been calling our name from the menu like a Dad shouting at his son from the sides of a football pitch on a Saturday morning, but we decided at last minute to go for a lighter option and boy, were we glad we did. The Hand-Picked Cornish Crab Linguine with chilli (£14) was the perfect size after the starter and fresh crab set off by the kick of chilli and al dente pasta was just what we needed.
When it comes to dessert there are some corkers, just choose your poison, or let the kooky waiter do it for you. If you like to share, then the High Society Eton Mess (£5 pp, min 2 ppl) is stunning but going it alone, then the Chocolate Orange Steamed Pudding (£6) with vanilla crème anglaise would be the perfect end to anyone’s meal.
There was a consistency throughout the evening and despite the failed attempts to make the place a destination bar it’s a great place to meet friends, grab a bite to eat and then slide on down to somewhere else. Cocktails are good and a pretty standard £9.50. It’s a place where good pub food is wearing a silly hat and by any length we don’t mean that in a bad way, every now and again we love to bring out the child in us. *Takes sip from teddy mug*