Founded by Henry Balls in the mid 19th century, Balls Brothers is still run by the family. Venues range from traditional drinking dens populated by claret-swilling gents to the minimalist banquettes of the self-styled gastro-bars of the Lewis + Clark chain (in all there are 15 bars, plus the seven branded under the Lewis + Clark name). Balls Brothers also owns Gow’s, a restaurant near Liverpool Street station, and Mulligans, an Irish-themed bar in Mayfair.
Across the group, sandwiches dominate the menu, but there might also be main-course options like battered haddock or ribeye steak. Balls Brothers Victoria is one of the branches with a more modern feel.
The corner site has attractive outdoor seating for warmer weather, and a generously proportioned back bar. It’s a useful after-work venue in an otherwise poorly served area. Balls Brother's wine lists are admirably free from big brands, but the same list is replicated at every bar.
The Old World dominates, although the selection of claret keeps things youthful and avoids the classic British taste for past-their-best vintages. Spanish reds are well featured and the Chablis Premier Cru Vaillon 2000 from Daniel-Etienne Defaix at £35 is very well priced for a mature wine from a great vintage. (The Lewis + Clark bars have more enterprising global lists, although their reluctance to list vintages for all the wines is frustrating.)