Balfour Restaurant (CLOSED)
Time Out says
Friendly warning! We're working hard to be accurate. But these are unusual times, so please check that venues remain open.
Please note, Balfour is now closed. Time Out Eating & Drinking editors, January 2017.
By all accounts, the redevelopment of the 1960s Brunswick Centre has been a famous success. In just a few years it's been transformed into a sad, vacant old shell into a cheery, modern retail centre that's once again the hub of local life.
But it could have been better. By leasing all of the units to major chains (the eating options include Strada, Yo! Sushi, Carluccio's and Starbucks), the developers have missed a trick. If, instead, they had given units to smaller, artisan businesses, the Brunswick would have tons more intimacy and character.
Fortunately there's nothing to stop new upscale independents springing up in the neighbouring streets. Step forward Balfour, a smart new café-restaurant at the corner of Marchmont Street and Tavistock Place. Its gorgeous red-and-green tilework, large glass windows, cute wooden furniture and blackboard menus immediately stand out against the forgettable greasy spoons and curry houses that it neighbours.
Starters of bruschetta, calamari, and a main course of gnocchi with tomato and mozzarella were fine but nothing special, and nearby Strada already raises the bar for this kind of thing. It's better to order from the chalked-up specials menu on the blackboard. Whole fillet of sea bass was fresh and unadulterated and served with sweet new potatoes, but star of the show was a fat leg of confit duck, crispy on the outside, succulent and tender beneath the skin. It came with cubes of roast butternut squash and worked perfectly on a citrus-dressed rocket salad. The posh bangers and mash also looked good.
Service was chirpy and efficient, and we had a decent bottle of Marqués de Reinosa Rioja from the short wine list. Balfour, we hope, is a sign of things to come in this little pocket of Bloomsbury. If it were confident enough to increase the number of delicious 'specials' it would shine even more.