Balham Bowls Club

Bars and pubs Balham
Critics' choice
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 4 out of 5 stars
(18 user reviews)
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© Gemma Day

First things first – this is not the secret south-of-the-river head office of the British Broadcasting Corporation. No, when locals say they’ll ‘meet you at the BBC’, they mean the Balham Bowls Club. And no, it’s not a bowls club either. But… it was. Once. 

That’s the USP of this neighbourhood pub – it’s not just granny chic, it’s granny bowls club chic. All the best bits – the scoreboards, the frilled-edged lamps, the upholstered armchairs – are still in place, dusty and marvellous. And don’t even get us started on the wood panelling and vintage mirrors.

But don't expect to find grannies at the bar. Instead, it’s a friendly crowd of twenty- and thirty-something locals, sipping the likes of Tusk IPA from nearby Twickenham, or guest offerings such as Calif-Oregon Amber ale from the Belleville Brewing Co, a US-style microbrewery just around the corner. For something more mainstream, try the likes of Amstel or Meantime’s London Pale Ale, or a glass of something from the quaffable, affordable wine list. Bar snacks are decent – think warm sausage rolls or burger and fries – though if you’re here for a proper meal, head to the dining room, where the accomplished, grown-up cooking is a real find.  

Venue name: Balham Bowls Club
Address: 7-9 Ramsden Rd
SW12 8QX
Opening hours: Open 4-11pm Mon-Wed; 4pm-midnight Thur; 4pm-1am Fri; noon-midnight Sat; noon-11pm Sun. Food served 6.30-10pm Mon-Fri; 12.30-4pm, 6.30-10pm Sat; 12.30-5pm Sun
Transport: Tube: Balham
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  • Quirky events Thursday June 16 2016 Free
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  • Markets and fairs Saturday July 9 2016 Free
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Average User Rating

4.1 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:9
  • 4 star:5
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:2
1 person listening

I do love the BBC! It is spacious and the perfect place for a large gathering. It is also good for a few drinks with friends as there is a great atmosphere. There are 'quieter' and larger more 'open' spaces depending on what you're after. The outside area is lovely too and still retains a good social feel to it. The staff are very friendly and the one roast I have had here was tasty and not too expensive!


This place is weird, in a good way. Unusual is probably a better word. It is absolutely massive, traditional in a way that you might not expect a big place to be, and to echo the sentiment of a lot of the other reviews on this page - there's a decent amount of quirk.


This is probably my favorite place to go for a pint of Blue Moon in Balham.  Even on a late Friday evening I was still able to get a table due to the pub being spacious.  I enjoy the atmosphere here more than other pubs in Balham due to it being relaxed and informal.  Other pubs in Balham tend to become more like a club on the weekend but the BBC keeps a chilled vibe that can be enjoyed all week long.  I have heard some great things about the food and it will be my next stop for a Sunday Roast. 

Lily H

Cosy but not too kitsch. Serving up the best sausage rolls I've ever had the joy of gobbling up. Nowhere better for a glass of red.

Sarah J Peach

A knowing local favourite, not for the chain lovers - the scotch eggs and pork pies are all you need with a nice pint of ipa to ward off the haters in the world xx

Nicola M

Lovely alternative style pub. Open fires in the winter. The restaurant serves amazing food

Charlotte T

Great little quirky pub - always a bit dissapointed when upstairs is closed as it is really cute upstairs with its twinkly fairy lights and maps. Great drinks solution - and sometimes there is even snacks available to buy at the downstairs bar - what more could you want. I am told it does a great roast too but yet to sample

timothy w

Quirky, dated pub with friendly staff and disjointed/disconnected rooms.

Service is good (the staff are friendly and smile) and range of drinks is more than reasonable. I haven't eaten here but the rooms can get a bit smelly/smoky when the kitchen is in full swing.

Definitely much better than the plethora of Be @ 1s, All Bar Ones etc


We had the best Sunday lunch here yesterday .... seriously impressed ... generous portions with perfect roast potatoes, tender beef and luscious lamb. It's a shame about the screaming babies ... the place was full of them. And dogs are allowed but not in the restaurant. I looked after one while his owner joined his friends to eat! The decor is a bit ramshackle and it's not the cheapest, but the quality of the food is exceptional. Highly recommended. You need to book ....


Location and venue great. The bar supervisor/ management were dreadful when dealing with a reasonable complaint / problem. Take your custom elsewhere whould be my advice.


this is my favourite pub in London. i have a great time evrytime i is fantastic...always have good service and love all their special events...


Barman served me flat lager .. When I complained, he said it was probably just coz he used a warm glass ! ... Asked for replacement .. He said "hold on" then poured flat beer into a fresh glass (from a height) to give it a head .. I asked for .. Please.. a fresh pint .. He said they have to be careful about "wastage" !!! ... Only when I insisted that a pint is really quite expensive did he (very reluctantly) pour a fresh pint.. Left me feeling like he's labelled me a difficult customer .. (certainly he offered no apology) I won't hurry back ..


I went to the BBC for my birthday party on Sunday, having been many times before just for drinks and been very happy in that respect. On this occassion, the food - we all ordered the roasts - was undercooked to the point of been raw as well as cold - when we complained to the waiter (6 out of 8 of us had the same compaints) he said that is how they cook their roasts, medium-rare! This is a roast, not steak, hence it is supposed to be well cooked and in any case with steak the customer is always asked how they'd like it done. The food really was appalling, which is a real shame because I really like the place for drinks - it spoilt my birthday party and I won't be going there again. It seems to me they have let their standards drop after receiving many rave reviews and that is a big mistake for any business to make.


I've visited a couple of times recently and found the staff friendly, attentive and very obliging. Good food, great atmosphere, I'd definitely recommend a visit.