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© Paul Mattsson

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.

Venue name: Balans
Address: 60 Old Compton Street
Opening hours: Open 8am-5am Mon-Thur; 8am-6am Fri, Sat; 8am-1am Sun. Meals served 8am-5am Mon-Sat; 8am-2am Sun
Transport: Tube: Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus tube
Price: Admission £2.50 after midnight Mon-Sat. Main courses £8.50-£22.95

Average User Rating

4.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:5
  • 4 star:0
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:1
2 people listening
john a


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My favourite restaurant and cafe.  Unlike some reviewers, I've never had a bad meal here and the varied menu contains something for everyone - I would heartily recommend both the Balans Burger and the pie of the Day. The staff are always friendly, even at 4am and the atmosphere is pleasant and very relaxed whenver you go.

If you are planning on being a regular diner then I would recommend the Balans Card which is one of the best loyalty schemes I've ever seen .


Very friendly and attentive staff, food was brought our relatively quickly and was to a good standard. Relatively cheap prices for London too. In a great location in soho, so would definitely recommend to anyone.

Louise Lockhart

So pretentious we we're not even let in! Never been so insulted by such ignorant behaviour. Standing in line in the cold while the doormen let various "VIP's" queue jump just shows the type of place this really is.


I ate here last night - the service was great, food was amazing and the atmosphere was wicked! I had the Greek Platter (there was alot of it!) to start, followed by a really tasty Thai Red Chicken Curry. Would definitely recommend this place for a delicious, filling and reasonably priced meal.


The chef at the small Balans in Old Compton is truly amazing. He does the best Smoked Chicken/Avocado salad I have come across in London and the presentation is excellent. I have tried this dish in other Balans and the Old Compton street Cafe leaves the others trailing. Don't lose this chef!!