Jun 12 2012
Balans, 239 Old Brompton Road, Earls Court
Adrian Seal eats at Balans, 239 Old Brompton Road, Earls Court SW5 9HP. Telephone 020 7244 8838 wwwbalans.co.uk
Balans describes itself as 'the perfect place to eat and drink anytime' and that they are celebrating their 25th year in the capital suggests many satisfied customers have passed through the doors during that time.
So looking for somewhere relaxed and informal to eat after a busy day at the office I headed down to the Balans' Earls Court restaurant to see what the recipe of success for this established chain is - there are six branches in total across London.
The restaurant is situated on a busy corner of Old Brompton Road, just a short stroll from Earls Court tube station, in an area where there is no shortage of competition in terms of similar places to eat.
There was a good buzz as we entered the restaurant, and while it may not win any awards for its design the interior of the main dinning room is friendly and there is an airy conservatory at the rear.
We took our seats facing the bar area – which was doing a good trade in tempting looking cocktails – and it was also nice to feel the cooling breeze flowing through the open windows at the front which, despite the busy street noise, created a feeling of al fresco dining on the sunny evening I visited.
The enthusiastic and friendly Albanian waiter quickly took our drinks order – a bottle of South African Haystacks Chardonnay from Journey's End vineyards – as we studied the menu which has a contemporary global cuisine feel about it.
I started with a generous plate of the masa coated fried calamari (£6.75), served with a pot of mayonnaise, and the squid was well cooked and delivered exactly what it said on the menu.
My partner Fiona went for the special of goats cheese and aubergine terrine (£6.75) which was well presented and tasty but lacked a bit on overall depth and flavour, which more of the cheese could have delivered.
For mains Fiona took little persuasion to try the signature dish, the famous 10oz Balans burger filled with plenty of cheddar cheese and streaky bacon in a house baked sesame bun. It packed a good punch at £10.95, was well cooked, lean and tender and juicy to the bite, and served with the option of fries or salad.
I went for a taste of the Mediterranean with the seared tuna steak served with cherry tomatoes, capers, pine nuts, olives and gremolata (£15.50).
There were some tongue tingling flavours on the plate particularly the strong lemon zest from the gremolata, which threatened to over power the fish – which was also slightly over cooked from what ordered. A side of well dressed salad helped cut through the stronger elements of the dish, which had just too many elements on the plate for my liking.
The evening was rounded off with a couple of delicious calorie busting puds (£5.75). Fiona declared her raspberry ripple Sunday as 'perfect', so good in fact she refused to share any as I looked on longingly, while my combination of strawberry, salted caramel and pistachio ice creams also hit the spot, with the caramel a real winner.
The food at Balans comes with no frills but is well presented and generally matched my expectations and the Earls Court restaurant offers a relaxed setting matched with friendly service to enjoy dinner.