Harrison’s started out in 2007 as the most ambitious bar-brasserie in Balham, expensively furnished and clearly aimed at the new money flooding into the area. But within a few years the menu had been dumbed down, and it was no longer the hot ticket for SW12 residents. It had been coasting along until the end of 2012 when the ground floor dining area was give a slight makeover, the basement function room given an overhaul and turned into a glam cocktail bar, and a new chef and menu deployed.
Anyone expecting the fervour of its heyday may be disappointed though, as the brasserie menu has now lost focus, and tries to please all comers – steaks, curries, Asian nods, Italian nibbles, it's all on there. But there’s nothing wrong with simple dishes done well, and we were pleased with our chicken schnitzel served with a caper butter on creamed sweetcorn, and a shepherd’s pie that was so artfully piped with potato mash even Fanny Cradock would surely approve.
A few dishes were bang on trend – a starter of ‘chilled crab trifle’ was layered with avocado and prettily served in a glass preservation jar. Prices are hardly recession-busting, but the early bird menus are better value.
While perhaps not a food-led venue, Harrison’s is a nonetheless a good local with a laid-back, friendly vibe.