Eat Here: Balans No.60, SohoBy Alicia Grimshaw
Over the years, Soho has welcomed numerous restaurants and its fleeting food trends (how can we forget about the dedicated crisps and dip restaurant or the place specialising in meatballs of different kinds). In the ever-evolving culinary tapestry of this central London neighbourhood, Balans No.60 has become somewhat of a Soho stalwart, and recently celebrated its 30th year in business (no mean feat for an industry which has faced economic headwinds over the last few years).
Balan’s No. 60, having weathered the storm of countless reinventions, stands as a timeless testament to Soho’s spirit, running with the efficiency of a well-oiled machine from breakfast through to dinner.
For its 30th anniversary, the restaurant, located slap bang in the middle of Old Compton Street, has launched a revamped dinner menu – it’s a small plate frenzy, with Balan’s favourites rubbing shoulders with new, creative dishes.
Kudos to the kitchen team for coming up with the fried lasagne snack that kicked off proceedings. Pure deep-fried decadence, this pasta cake, served in bite-sized morsels, came encased in a breadcrumb duvet and served with a breathtakingly pungent (in a good way) garlic aioli. Starters came in thick and fast: the truffle chicken taco with cream cheese, drizzled with a truffle and marjoram honey could have perhaps done with being more liberal on the truffle side, but was a solid dish nonetheless. The torched Baron Bigod, a Brie-style cheese sourced from Sussex, was something you would find on a Boxing Day spread (in the best possible way). Beneath the nutty, mushroomy rind, was a creamy and silky texture with a rich, buttery flavour – served with Korean spiced honey and a hand-made kale and linseed cracker. A solid vessel for the amount of cheese I unashamedly piled on top.
Main courses were more on the classic side, as dishes like the No 60. Burger, olive-brined chicken, confit sea trout and grilled octopus were more what you would expect from the Soho institution. However, it was the Suffolk pork tomahawk which was the real party starter. Brined and grilled for better flavour, the generous hunk of meat was paired with a punchy blackened corn relish, sweet potato puree and some equally tasty braised shallots. Great for sharing, but not a requirement. Unfortunately, I passed on desserts having filled up on potato bread with date butter (a must-order for those who pig out early into the meal like myself).
Balans No.60, with its 30-year legacy, continues to redefine itself while remaining a cornerstone of Soho’s culinary landscape. Long may it continue.
60-62 Old Compton St, London W1D 4UG
For more information see here.