Mr Sloan, Restaurants

The Balcon

The Balcon, a grade II listed 100 cover brasserie that is located in the prime location in London’s West End has its own street facing entrance and is situated on 8 Pall Mall. Located within Sofitel London St James, The Balcon’s architecture and structure of the historic building complement the master strategy originally laid down by John Nash for his Regent Street urban plan 100 years earlier.

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The interior of the 100 cover brasserie is intricately designed with double height ceilings and majestic columns set with gilt and marble, oak and ebony banded wooden flooring, a bespoke finely weaved wire chandelier, tan leather and mahogany dining chairs with resin-topped tables, foxed glass mirrors and arched windows reaching to the ceiling overlooking Waterloo Place and Pall Mall framed by silk drapes and bronzes of dogs. The Balcon certainly lives up to it’s reputation and the food is as delicious as it is beautiful.  New dishes on the menu include the refreshing Yuzu Cured Salmon with Edamame Puree, Wakame Salad and Tobbikko.

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The Balcon also houses a charming champagne balcony, that is framed by two oak spiral staircases, overlooks the brasserie and showcases the temperature and humidity controlled wine cellars, with a tasting podium directly beneath. Since opening in 2011, the champagne balcony at The Balcon has become renowned for being one of London’s most romantic spots on Valentine’s Day, with a marriage proposal taking place every year! Alas, it was a cold April night so no one popped the question in front of us, but love was  certainly still in the air and the restaurant has a charming atmosphere. However who could say no to a lovely glass of bubbly

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Especially as it was paired with a fois gras and lobster amuse bouche. The lobster was combined with a fresh avocado and a little spice.

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Everything about The Balcon is very plush, from the handbag holders and coatroom leather fobs to the ipad drinks menu andthe table placements engraved with their name.

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Glancing at the menu we spy some fabulous concoctions, and spot a few going by us. One that was recommended to us was the Seared mackerel with falafel, sumac yoghurt, confit tomatoes

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But I couldn’t help but order the grilled scallops, boudin noir, apple croquette with carrot pickle

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My dining companion was drawn to the foie gras with membrillo, spiced walnuts and pain d’ épices crumbs, which by all accounts was a superb choice, not that I got to try any!

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Matt Greenwood, previously at the pinnacle of pioneering London eateries, Blixen, Smokehouse, Caravan, Kopapa and Providores, made it his mission since joining The Balcon in December 2015, to demonstrate his dedication for flavoursome ingredients when crafting each of the dishes on the menu. His dishes are culinary artistry befitting of the reputation he has built up over the years.

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Matt’s extensive experience of cooking for different cultures is evident in the menu he has designed for The Balcon, ensuring his guests enjoy a wide range of dishes that reflect his love of fusion cooking but also his ability to preserve elements of The Balcon’s more traditional adoration of the French cuisine. The food just pops on the plate.

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With so much choice on the menu I decided to branch out of my comfort zone and order the Crispy skinned sea bream, clams, samphire, salsify, laverbread with chive beurre blanc to see if my hunger could be sated with fish over a more meatier option. Perfect portion size if you are hungry, explosive flavours, with contrasting textures and the right balance of acidity. Also low on starches helping you feel light yet satisfied. A delightful dish.

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The portion is extremely generous but making sure I get my five a day, I opted to share a couple of side dishes, rosemary fries and carrot, butternut squash and pumpkin.

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My dining companion chose the Elwy Valley lamb rump and shoulder, pearl barley, roasted carrots, cavolo nero with  broad beans. The dish features slow cooked shoulder and à la minute rump.

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As well as an appetising range of starters and main courses, Matt suggests a seven course tasting menu, which includes the above lamb dish that he sources from one of his favourite suppliers Elwy Valley Lamb. The pairing with Pearl Barley, Roasted Carrots, Cavolo Nero and Broad Bean Pesto gives it a deserving spot on the tasting menu.

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I do suggest saving room for what comes next. Profiteroles with banana caramel, vanilla ice cream, hazelnuts with a  frangelico ganache. Pure heaven on a plate.

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But there are so many delightful dishes to choose from.

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Toying with a Rhubarb and stem ginger steamed pudding, cinnamon mascarpone, honeycomb as our second dessert…

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We passed on this option and ordered from the pastry trolley. The selection of desserts is exquisite if you have a sweet tooth. Chocolate tarts, passionfruit cheesecake, rose and raspberry macaroon, coffee, caramel, pastries in every shape and size waiting to adorn your plate.  Can you guess what I chose…

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For those who want a little more privacy for larger groups, the elegantly designed private dining room at The Balcon is separated from the main dining area by silk curtains and seats up-to 16 guests. Decorated with a gold leaf ceiling, pendant light shades and antique concave mirrors, the private dining room is available for special intimate occasions, such as celebratory dinners, receptions and wine tastings.

Sofitel St James Private Dining Room

Sofitel St James Private Dining Room

The menu at The Balcon also reflects Matt’s experimental side and willingness to include ingredients that are not so widely used such as Hake and Mackerel, which he includes in The Balcon’s mouth-watering “Roasted Hake Fillet, Ratatouille, Green Olive Tapenade Shellfish Oil” and “Seared Mackerel with Falafel, Sumac Yogurt and Confit Tomatoes”. Matt strives to recreate French dishes, by drawing on his love for bright colours and strong flavours. I look forward to returning to try the next creations.

The Balcon London
Sofitel London St James
8 Pall Mall London SW1Y 5NG
+44 (0)207 968 2900
www.sofitelstjames.com

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