Sofitel Wine Days at The Balcon

Sofitel London St James is on Waterloo Place on the corner of Pall Mall, close to the internationally recognised landmarks of Trafalgar Square and Regent Street. The 125, 000 sq ft. Grade II listed building, owned by the Crown Estate represents one of the most prestigious hotel addresses in London.

Located within the hotel, 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. The restaurant 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.

Sofitel Wine Days is an annual global program during which Sofitel hotels around the world celebrate wine and art-de-vivre. The festivities take place during the traditional wine harvest period in France and offer guests a variety of extraordinary wine experiences such as tastings and wine pairings.

2017 will be the program’s 6th edition, providing guests with the opportunity to discover Sofitel’s commitment to wine through a variety of events that will encourage everyone to make daring new discoveries and expand their knowledge to discover which wine suits them best, thanks to the Sofitel wine experts.

Sofitel London St James is committed to Gastronomy & Wine which is no surprise given our previous dining experience at The Balcon. On hand throughout the meal, the wine experts demonstrate Sofitel’s tailor-made approach to service.

The Alsace Wines and food pairing small plates menu during Sofitel Wine Days at The Balcon. First up is seared mackerel with pickled vegetables, horseradish and fennel purée for £8. The mackerel paired with Cave de Ribeauvillé, Pinot Blanc Collection 2015 (Glass 125ml £8 – Bottle £55).

The second pairing dish on the menu is foie gras ballotine with toasted brioche, gooseberry jelly and verjus syrup for £9. The foie gras is paired with Cave de Ribeauvillé, Riesling Grand Cru Osterberg 2010 paired with (Glass 125ml £14 – Bottle £80).

The last pairing dish on the menu is roasted goat’s cheese with pomegranate honey and almonds for £7.  The goat’s cheese is paired with Cave de Ribeauvillé, Clos Zahnacker 2009 (Glass 125ml £24 – Bottle £95).

On the evening of our visit, the mackerel was off the menu but that wasn’t a great hardship as it had been replaced with a delicious sounding mousseline of scallop and avocado. But we began our evening with the generous bread basket served with both salted and unsalted butter as we looked over the Wine Days menu.

I went for the mousseline and as one can imagine at The Balcon I was not disappointed. The creamy mousseline of scallop and avocado was topped with lobster meat and flavoured with yuzu served with a sprinkling of chopped tomato. The Pinot Blanc served with the small plate was a light, crisp and fruity dry white with floral and mineral aromas that made this a aromatic and charming pairing with the seafood appetizer.

My dining companion chose the foie gras served on toasted brioche. The richness of the foie gras was complemented perfectly by the pairing of a fine Riesling Grand Cru Osterberg 2010 from the renowned Cave de Ribeauvillé. The dry white wine had notes of pear with citrusy and flinty aromas. The minerality gave way to a expressive finish that helped make this Riesling an elegant and complex wine.

Moving on to mains, the restaurant kindly allowed us to choose different plats du jour from the one on the day. My dining companion had the mussels which although were not as large as the mussels often found from suppliers like the Wright Brothers here in London, were still succulent and served in a delicious creamy sauce. The mussels were paired with Côtes-du-Rhône Secret de Famille Blanc, Paul Jaboulet Aîné 2015 with its fresh peachy flavours and lovely rounded fruit standing up well to the seafood flavours.

I chose the Lamb Navarin served with a fruity fregola dotted with the bright orange of chopped apricots and succulent juicy raisins. The slow cooked lamb yielded without resistance under the fork and the fragrant spices of the lamb were complemented by the sweet flavours of the fregola. The wine pairing with this plat du jour was Château Bonnet Réserve Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon, the full bodied richness with strong notes of cherry and ripe red fruits made this easy-drinking wine the perfect partner with this lamb dish.

To finish I chose the Chocolate Fondant with Poached Pear. The flavours of the pear and dark chocolate were balanced in complete harmony with the crunchy hazelnut praline. What a wonderful combination! The fondant was cooked to expert perfection and the melting centre was a truly food porn moment!

My dining companion was delighted with her Honey Ice Cream Macaron which was the perfect texture and complemented by the accompanying gingerbread and honeycomb on the plate. A perfect example of how  The Balcon’s menu blends French and British traditions, styles and ingredients, whilst combining innovation and a modern twist to effectively link the two cultures.

Sofitel Wine Days tastings represent a unique experience for wine lovers, providing the ideal framework to benefit from the hotel group’s expert knowledge, gained over 50 years’ experience, as well as its master sommeliers, outstanding wine library and the exceptional wines served at the event. After sampling these perfectly paired pairings why not forego dessert and try a cocktail instead at the St James Bar.

The latest addition to the cocktail menu is Born Wild – white tea infused Grey Goose vodka with lychee liqueur, lavender syrup, Campari and peach bitters topped up with Charles Legend Brut Champagne and served in a monkey head vessel that’s guaranteed to make you go ape!

Sofitel Wine Days runs at The Balcon from now until 31st October and the restaurant is also offering wine by the glass paired with the plat du jour.

The Balcon at Sofitel London St James
8 Pall Mall London SW1Y 5NG
+44 (0)207 968 2900
T: @SofitelLondonSJ
I: @thebalconlondon

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