DINNER & DECOR: BALANS SOHO SOCIETY (KENSINGTON)
Next up in the Dinner & Decor series I'm off to the westsiiide (kinda) for a little poke around Balans Soho Society's recently refurbished branch in Kensington. With a decor based around old English curiosities and a full size tree taking centre stage in the main dining area, you know it's gonna be interesting. I took along my friend Naomi to help me sample the menu, and of course a few cocktails. She was on a very strict diet based around some of her health issues, so we knew Balans were going to have to be really attentive to her needs. How do you think they did? Read on...
We were greeted at the door with something on the floor that got both of our notice, in all the right ways.
Taking a look around the restaurant I definitely got the impression of a quirky vibe, with strange curiosities adoring the walls and bar area. It was lively and buzzy, with warm dim lighting for diners. And wait, hang on... was that a tree in the back? Yes, yes it was. A large light well in the back seating area means that a large tree adorns the huge centre table. A really nice statement I think!
We grabbed one of the booth at the back which had rich Purple button backs and rustic dark wood tables. Finishes are mis matched and disjointed - the perfect eccentric old English mix. I noted a cabinet of curiosities a little further down from our table and made a mental note to check it out before we left.
The cheery waiter brought over some menus to check out.
The cocktail menu looked pretty good and I really couldn't decide. I always find the mark of a good cocktail place is to ask the waiter what they recommend. The waiter was back within a few moments to take our orders so I got the lowdown on the best at Balans. 'The Porn Star Martini, for sure', in his opinion.
'Really?! A porn star martini?! I thought they were just the cocktails that chavvy girls on hen do's ordered but ok, I trust you man.'
Whilst I waited suspiciously for a cocktail with a penis straw to turn up, Naomi asked what was suitable for her that didn't contain much or any sugar. The waiter suggested a few options before helping to decide on a fresh pink grapefruit and vodka. Sounded pretty delicious to me. Zingy!
I can't lie, the Porn Star Martini was pretty delicious. Sweet and soft, fizzed up by a shot of champagne. Perfect for my sweet tooth! Whilst we were drinking or cocktails we chose starters.
I went for the seared yellowfin Tuna which was absolutely scrumptious! Tender and soft with a chilli, garlic, ginger and soy dressing - one of my absolute faves. There was definitely a slight sweetness to the dressing too. Also a great portion size, I almost could have eaten that with a side as a main course. Really perfect, I'd order that again without a second thought.
Our waiter really deserves a big up at this point, as he was SO accommodating around Naomi's dietary needs, working tirelessly to find her the perfect dish to start. They eventually settled on the pint of prawns which would be served with a garlic olive oil instead of the aioli which is usually provided. The prawns were super fresh, shell on and drenched in lemon. Because I ate my tuna so fast (seriously) Naomi was still de-shelling! So I got stuck in and helped cos' I'm a GREAT FRIEND.
On another note there was some bloody cracking sourdough bread provided too. The best I've had in a while actually.
Much chatting ensured, mainly about Naomi's hilarious escapades (or escapes?!) on Tinder, but that's for another time.
Before we knew it our lovely waiter was bringing over our main courses. I had spent so long debating over the menu but eventually settled on the pulled pork wrap. I wanted to keep it light (!) so went for something sandwich-y. Naomi took the good old traditional route and went for the rib eye steak. We got a side of curly kale and ginger.
My wrap was the perfect bit of sweet and savoury that I needed, with the wrap getting a crunch from the slaw and a sweetness from the BBQ sauce. The wrap was full to the brim with pulled pork, so much so that I actually struggled to finish it. I tell you what, at Balans you definitely won't go home underfed! At this point with the tuna, bread (that I just couldn't stop nibbling on), the curly kale, pulled pork and those beautiful chips I was needing to be rolled home.
And dessert was coming. Help!
MORE COCKTAILS NEEDED.
I again asked for suggestions and went for a frozen cocktail, this time a slightly more demure 'Ode to Madame Jojo's', a blend of rum, coconut and strawberry liqueurs. It was sweet and ice creamy and everything a girl could wish for. But just not right at this moment of fullness.
Who am I kidding that went down all too easily as well! Forgot to take a pic though. DOOFUS.
We decided to share a dessert and thought I had been eyeing the warm doughnuts I just couldn't manage anything carb-y at that point. Looking back now I am f*cking kicking myself. Ah, another reason to return I spose! I mean seriously, mini doughnut balls.. come orrrrrrrn!
We were sensible (!) and went for the Pineapple and Chilli Tarte Tartin. I do like to try things that I wouldn't usually order when I'm out on these Dinner & Decor reviews, so this was a great option. It was crumbly based, laced with coconut ice cream, pineapple chunks and slices of red chilli at the bottom which gave it the most fabulous kick. We also saw sweet tobacco on the description of this item which led to much nibbling of things to see if we could work out which bits the tobacco were. Still none the wiser.
Before ordering a fresh mint tea to try and deflate this giant food baby that I had accumulated over the previous hour and a half I headed down to the ladies to check out the style. We all know the toilets are an important factor!
Balans are pretty laid back with a bit of a feature wallpaper and most intriguingly to me a cobalt blue tile grout (which led to me writing this post all about coloured and metallic tile grout).
Ok need tea, need tea.
And then it was our time to leave the lovely Balans and their fabulous staff to try and roll ourselves home! I grabbed a few snaps of the curiosity cabinet as we exited... not sure if I liked or it was very, very freaked out. Arg the masks!
Thanks to Balans for their superb hospitality and deliciously guilty pleasure food! I'll be back to eat my way through the rest of the menu very shortly. Word on the wire is that they do a LOBSTER EGGS BENEDICT PEOPLE.
What do you think of the curiosity look? Do you find it freaky or interesting... or both?!
P.S If you have enjoyed this post check out my other reviews of restaurants with cool interiors by clicking here.
*Balans provided a complimentary meal in return for this review. My reviews are always honest and tell it how it is! I only review restaurants that I think fit with the unique style of my readers.*