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The Owl

Bars and pubs, Cocktail bars Balham
Recommended
4 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(3user reviews)
The Owl

Dark and bijou basement bar that serves a slap-up cocktail

Worried you might not be looking your best today? Then make a date with The Owl. The lamps at this bijou basement bar below the Balham outpost of Foxlow are set to ‘flatteringly low’ and are supplemented by the warm glow of flickering tealights: you’re guaranteed to look like a movie star. Not that the space has anything to hide – it’s long been one of the slinkiest, sexiest spots in the area, with dark ceilings and classy leather booths giving it the air of a chic bat cave. Sure, the vibe is no different to its previous incarnation (Downstairs at Harrison’s), but it wasn’t broke, so why fix it?

The real stars here, though, are the cocktails: a rotating list from the crew behind Hawskmoor and Foxlow. Shaky Pete’s Ginger Brew (a Hawksmoor classic, created by one of their best-loved bartenders) is a must-try: a generous glass tankard that’s part old-fashioned lemonade, part slush puppy, pepped up with gin, fresh ginger and a splash of London Pride. Nibbles – such as juicy fat olives or pairs of kabanos (dry, smoked Polish sausage) – are excellent, but for something more substantial, you’ll have to go upstairs to the restaurant. Leaving the bar to those of us who want to get stuck into some more cocktails. And keep looking really, really good.

Venue name: The Owl
Contact:
Address: Foxlow Balham
15-19 Bedford Hill
London
SW12 9EX
Opening hours: 6pm-midnight Wed-Thu; 6pm-1am Fri-Sat; closed Sun-Tue
Transport: Tube: Balham
Do you own this business?
Static map showing venue location

Average User Rating

5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:0
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|3
1 person listening

I attended a private event held in the Owl for a friends 40th birthday.
The level of service and management organisation prior to and during the event was very disappointing.
Some of the information she was given prior to the event was misleading and contradictory.
Something as trivial as setting up a tab on the night was messed up as they started adding other people's drinks to my tab!
Questioning this was met with some indignation (the barman seemed surprised that I wasn't particularly happy with anyone from the 30+ group - many of which I didn't know - being able to put drinks on my tab without any questions asked) before they eventually sorted it out and charged the right people for their drinks.
My friend, who's birthday it was, received frequent, and somewhat pushy, updates that she was not going to meet the minimum spend making her worried for latter half of the night.
It then became clear that they weren't including drinks bought by the group at the other bar.
Despite them being told of this they ignored that and proceeded to try to strong arm her into paying hundreds of pounds on vouchers to meet the minimum spend.
This was towards the end of the night when everyone was a little drunk and looking to call it night. It felt like that was their tactic so she would pay up just to keep the peace.
It ruined the end of the night and left a nasty taste in the mouth of everyone there.

On top of this the draft beer was sold as "schooners" (379ml, apparently) but still charged at pint prices (i.e. £5/glass) and then they had the audacity to charge 12.5% service charge for ordering drinks at the bar!

At best I would say the management were very amateurish and lacked basic professionalism. At worst I think they were out of order and ruined what should have been a fun and special night.
Suffice to say I won't be frequenting this establishment again, and if you're looking to hire the Owl function room be very careful dealing with the management!


A great little cocktail bar underneath Foxlow's in Balham. Perfect for a pre or post dinner drink when dining locally. Prices are reasonable and service is quick. I will definitely be back :)

Tastemaker

Nestled down a spiral staircase beneath what used to be Harrisons (but is now Foxlow) is The Owl, an intimate, dark (in a sexy way) and elegant cocktail bar PERFECT for a date night down in SW12. It has never been overly busy when i've been in there which is nice, it means it's relaxed and casual rather than hectic. It also means service is prompt as the friendly barmen don't have their attention stretched too far!


The cocktails are, in the most, the right side of £8 and are good. Nothing too fancy, but the flavour combos and variety are good. The wine selection is also pretty decent, and I'm quite the fan of their roasted almonds which made a tasty little snack while you gossip away in candle light. 

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