Located in the middle of Soho’s most hectic strip, Balans is all things to all people. It functions as a first-stop breakfast café, a pleasant lunchtime brasserie, a buzzy evening restaurant and an after-pub (or even after-club) restaurant-bar. Such adaptability should be applauded, even if the food can be a bit hit and miss.
The space is large, with a big open front bar and a more secluded area out back. The menu is impressively – perhaps even worryingly – varied. We started with so-so seared scallops and black pudding and some cracking enchiladas, before moving on to a pleasant and extremely filling fish pie crammed with cod, pollack and prawns.
The catch of the day, salmon, was served with a slightly over-tart salsa verde. But Balans isn’t really a place for eating, it’s somewhere to be seen eating. The pavement and window tables are rarely free of poseurs until the early hours. There’s also a weekday cocktail happy two hours beginning at 4pm for those who want to get the party started early.