London, Lunch

Balans Soho Society, Westfield Stratford

Balans interior bar candle

We were lured to Balans by an enticingly brief mention in The Guardian from Grace Dent, an admired food writer and East End local. So off we set for a lunchtime treat. Balans Soho Society is a small chain of eight restaurants, all in London. At Stratford’s Westfield shopping centre they are located on The Street, a glass-covered walkway just outside the main drag. It’s tricky to give personality to these big retail unit spaces, but they’ve done a pretty good job here.

Balans do a great line in brunch options as well as a set menu and an all-day menu. Lots of choices, too many in fact as we were left rather confused. We had a lovely bouncy waiter who guided us through and made us feel very welcome. We’re not big daytime drinkers so A. opted for a smoothie and I had a lemonade. It’s a shame that the soft drinks weren’t listed on the menu, especially as there were some quite interesting options on offer. It’s not all about the alcohol so why not make more of a feature of non-boozy drinks?

In Search of Flavour

Onto the menu choices, and this was very much a tale of two lunches. I consulted with our bouncy waiter and plumped for the pappardelle with goats cheese, spinach, kale & walnut pesto. The waiter talked me into adding chorizo, which I was really looking forward to until he returned rather crestfallen to tell me that the kitchen were out of it. Ah well, perhaps next time. It was lovely without, tasty and lovely textures. I tried not to look as if I was enjoying it too much though as A.’s meal was markedly less successful. He opted for a kedgeree of smoked haddock, spiced basmati rice, poached egg with a side dish of curly kale, ginger and chilli. It looked lovely, and had a strong smell of haddock but sadly no real taste other than the overwhelming saffron from the rice. The kale was just that – kale. No ginger or chilli in evidence as far as either of us could see. Poor A. looked forlorn.

We considered a pudding to cheer things up, but the options didn’t appeal on the day so we disappeared home to have tea and cake.

Podcast

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Recommendation

Well, with one recommending and one left a little hungry, this is a difficult one to call. They do have an extensive menu and A. generously said that he might be tempted to venture back to try one of the other dishes. Pricing was reasonable for London, and two mains and two non-alcoholic drinks came to £36 including service.

Loo Review (PMC Rating): ★★★★☆ Well designed and clean

Balans Soho Society, 123 The Street, Westfield Stratford City Shopping Centre, London E20 1EN

Sunday, 30th September 2018

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