The welcome: If you’ve been to the original Balans Soho Society, you know what to expect. Hench, charmingly peppy, (camp) men – wearing aprons which say things like ‘reprobate’ and ‘best plan no plan’ – serve indulgent food and even more indulgent cocktails with just the right level of chutzpah.
The room: This is the first Balans restaurant to open after their recent restaurant-wide decor revamp. The original Balans Soho Society charms with its mash of fussy wallpaper, banquet sofas naughty paintings and kitschy bric-a-brac. Now, however, the look is much more laid back, with diner-style upholstered benches, edgily co-ordinated, substanceless drawings hung in careful arrangements and dull wooden tables.
Oh Balans, you were so bold. There’s no need to abandon ship. Balans, the naughty antichrist of good taste, became so well-loved because it stuck to its gaudy self in a world that is otherwise suffocating from an overdose of industrial chic and exposed brick. But this redesign feels like a neutering.
The food: All the food is, as far as possible, freshly made, even the beer batter on the haddock and double dipped chips. This pays off especially in the Cornish crab linguine, with its delicate, aromatic chilli sauce, though on our next visit we would ask the chefs to hold off on the overzealous use of lemon zest.
The dessert menu is very cake and ice cream-focussed, missing the signature indulgence of the original Balans with its warm doughnuts piled with chantilly cream. However, we can’t complain too much as the vegan chocolate cake at Seven Dials is the best we’ve tasted.
Would we go again? …fine. yes. But wounded and sulking because we’re not ready for change.
|What||Balans Soho Society Seven Dials Café review, Covent Garden|
|Where||Seven Dials Cafe, Balans Soho Society, 34 Old Compton St, Covent Garden, W1D 4TS | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
01 Aug 16 – 30 Apr 20, 12:00 AM
|Website||Click here to book via Balans|