Review: The Balcon Restaurant
What: The Balcon
Where: 8 Pall Mall, London SW1. Off Trafalgar Square. Part of the adjoining 5 Star Sofitel Hotel at 6 Waterloo Place, but the good news is, it has its own entrance on the Mall.
What’s special: Grand exterior architecture. Belonged to Cox & Kings Bank – Empire builders of the British Raj. An imposing, English heritage grade II listed building.
Stunning interiors. Art Deco inspired 1920s chic. Stylish – think glamour, power and elegance of early Hollywood.
Service: Charming and French. Passionate, interested and seamless.
Food: Ambitious, inventive but still work in progress. We loved the option of the lo-calorie menu originating from the French Thalasso Spa, where a holistic approach to health and well being is achieved through exercise, spa and considered food options.
Tasting highlights: Thumbs up to the French style tapas – hot and cold dishes. We had the fresh as a daisy, Salt roasted heirloom carrots and beetroots with Sainte Maure goat cheese, balsamic vinegar dressing. Also the Braised Angus beef short rib and carrot Bourguignon – delightfully tender and juicy. Thermidor twice baked cheese soufflé, native lobster and crème fraîche sauce was recommended but I found the flavours too sedate.
The bread and pastries. They have a proper pastry chef. It shows.
Work in progress: There’s a diverse range on this well thought out menu, however with the Rhug Farm organic chicken and tarragon sauce, the flavours in the accompanying vegetable casserole were the highlight. The main players – chicken and tarragon were solid but not spectacular. The North Sea cod, Provençal ratatouille and Niçoise black olives needed all the ingredients on one fork to work. It’s certainly a ‘sum of the parts’ dish.
The white wine, a bone dry, fruity Viognier de Pennautier was just too sharp.
Nice touches: Warm chocolate Mug cake with ginger and milk ice cream. All that gooey sweetness restrained by accents of ginger. Clever. A similar balance was achieved by the unlikely combo of Parsnip and maple syrup cake with clotted cream ice cream.
Dream sequence: Garbo sashaying down the spiral staircase – sans cigarette (no-smoking please ‘darling’). Howard Hughes romancing Ava Gardner in a discreet corner. Tamara de Lempicka scouting her next portrait.
Expect to see: Central London business movers and shakers (IOD is directly across the road), Sofitel Hotel guests, in-the-know tourists and smart Londoners who’ve booked online.
Who you should take: Your date definitely. If they’re not impressed wave goodbye. For business, yes, but civilised and well behaved. For groups, see ‘for business’.
Dress: Make an effort. This place deserves it.
Price guide: Dinner for two with wine £90
Monday to Friday 11am -11pm
Sunday 11.30am -10pm