Brunch at Balans no.60 in Soho, London – In early March, we were lucky enough to be invited for brunch at Balans no 60 in Soho, Oxford Circus. Located down the bustling Old Compton Street, Balans no 60 describes itself as an all-day and late-night brasserie – serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and (most importantly) cocktails, all day every day.
The atmosphere inside the restaurant was perfect for a rainy Saturday afternoon. The interior was like a warm hug; as if we were just arriving at home to shelter from the rain, and the waiting staff were extremely welcoming and accommodated us with ease. This is especially impressive considering how packed the venue was.
As we were visiting during lunch hours, we had the pleasure of perusing the all day menu. This consists of a variation of dishes ranging through all-day brunches, sandwiches, small plates and large plates. The menu is huge; perhaps too big, as we spent quite a while making up our minds on what to eat!
What we drank
Balans no 60 really shines when it comes to their cocktail selection. With four complimentary cocktails to choose from, we were blown away by the cocktails they have to offer.
Espresso Martini – Vodka, espresso, coffee liqueur
Kentucky Smash – Bourbon, fig, lime, honey, mint
Pornstar Martini (world famous!) – vodka, vanilla, passionfruit, a shot of Moet & Chandon champagne
Mojito – Rum, lime, fresh mint & soda water
For my first cocktail, I went for the Espresso Martini. I am a huge coffee lover and Espresso Martinis are my favourite cocktails of all time! This drink didn’t fail to impress; smooth, strong coffee flavours with a hint of sweetness. If you’re into more bitter Espresso Martinis, I’d recommend sticking with regular coffee this time.
My friend went for the Kentucky Smash for her first cocktail of the day. She described it as dangerously drinkable and her personal favourite! Expect some sweetness with this drink (a theme of this lunch, it seems!). Perfect for if you’re looking for something fruity.
For my second cocktail I went for a Mojito. Though this cocktail is a staple for cocktail lovers, I felt like the mojito fell short in comparison to the other drinks Balans has to offer. I remember eyeing up the Pornstar Martini my friend had ordered and wishing that I had done the same.
On the contrary, the Pornstar Martini was absolutely delicious! Though you may question its validity in being ‘world famous’ when you read the menu, I wouldn’t be surprised if that were true. One of the best pornstar martinis I’ve ever tried, in fact – extremely creamy and full of flavour – don’t miss out on this!
What we ate
For our food we decided to go for two small plate dishes and a large plate each to sample as much as we could.
Parmesan Churros – Black garlic & Truffle aioli
Manchego & serrano croquettes – Paprika aioli
American pancakes – with warm maple butter and bacon
Togarashi buttermilk chicken doughnut – Togarashi marinated fried chicken, Japanese kewpie slaw, pickles, smoked bacon, Red Leicester cheese & gochujang ketchup, in a doughnut
All of the dishes at Balans no 60 consist of very large portions. It was a pleasant surprise to discover this – the prices for their food are extremely reasonable for the restaurant’s location. Any of the large dishes, brunches, or sandwiches would make a filling lunch and keep you going for the rest of the day. My recommendation is to go for a few small plates to get a good taste of their menu, as these dishes seem to be their strongest as well.
The first dishes we had were the Parmesan Churros and the Manchego & Serrano croquettes. We had these as starter dishes and they were easily the stars of the show!
The churros were cheesy, rich, and very filling – I would definitely swap out my large dish (pancakes) with these churros and another small dish. The garlic and truffle aioli dip wasn’t as truffly as I’d have liked it to be, but the richness of the churros would have made the addition of a strong truffle flavour too overwhelming. The parmesan really stands out and I would definitely return just to eat these again.
Much like the churros, the croquettes were also a very strong dish. I could’ve eaten these forever! These were also incredibly cheesy and perfect for cheese lovers. The croquettes were easily my favourite out of the two small dishes.
For my large dish, I had the American pancakes with bacon. Despite being famous, these felt like very typical pancakes and weren’t too special. Extremely filling and sweet, but I’d recommend only ordering these if you have a specific pancake craving.
My friend had the buttermilk chicken doughnut; this is a chicken burger with a twist – instead of a regular bun, the burger is topped with two halves of a sweet donut. The fried chicken was cooked perfectly: crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, packed full of flavour. Exactly what you’d want from a chicken burger! However, the doughnut didn’t add anything to the dish that you would be missing out on with a regular bread bun.
Overall, we left Balans no 60 feeling very content (and full!) with the food we had eaten. It is very clear that the cocktails are their strongest, and I will definitely be back to try out their cocktail menu more extensively. The wait staff were super friendly and service was quick even during their peak hours on a Saturday afternoon. If you’re looking for some hearty food and flavoursome cocktails, Balans no 60 is the place to be!
Have a look at our post on the best places for brunch in London.