Foxlow Balham (CLOSED)
Time Out says
Please note, Foxlow Balham has now closed. Time Out Food editors, July 2019.
It’s not a great start when the first words that come out of your mouth as you walk into a restaurant are ‘It’s a pity.’ ‘It’s a pity they didn’t really revamp it,’ we muttered to one another (the site was previously Harrison’s, a smartish brasserie part-owned by Rick Stein). Then: ‘It’s a pity that the one thing they did change has made it worse’ (the bar area near the entrance has gone, presumably to encourage people to head to the downstairs Owl Bar, but creating an odd, desolate ‘lobby’ space instead).
We had a vested interest. We were four locals, all willing this latest outpost of Foxlow, a ‘smokehouse’ from Hawskmoor founders Will Beckett and Huw Gott, to be so superb we could come here every week until everyone knew our names and were frankly sick of us.
It’s not all bad. Poor design decisions aside, the cooking is mostly excellent. There was a creamy white-bean houmous, served with a green chilli-and-garlic ‘harissa’ and thick slices of good bread. Also good was a mashed-up burrata on toast with the clean, green notes of a sorrel salsa verde, and a salad of baby kale and beetroot chunks teamed with mandolined-thin slices of fresh horseradish.
Red meat mains, including top-notch steak and melt-in-the-mouth beef shortrib, were also excellent; as was rich mac ’n’ cheese with a breadcrumb crust. But the chicken burger – ordered in a panic because our waiter had neglected to mention that they were out of the beef burgers – was fairly pedestrian, and the biggest disappointment of the lot.
Desserts were a mixed bunch: our passion fruit ‘cheesecake’ turned out to be more of a so-so mousse-in-a-glass, but the dinky jug of boozy, buttery ‘bourbon caramel’ sauce, served warm for pouring over soft serve ice cream and crushed candied walnuts, is an absolute must-order. Perhaps the greatest let-down came from the staff. At the original Foxlow, service is exceptional: the perfect balance of chumminess and professionalism. But on our visit to this latest Foxlow, our waiter regularly crossed the line into overfamiliarity, and was more interested in being a full-of-catchphrases quipster than in properly describing the menu. We hope we just got unlucky on the night. It’s a pity.