We quite like the lawlessness of brunch, where conventional menus are cast aside for a daring amalgam of food choice. There is one London local that has rethought the intrepid journey to the buffet, and turned brunch into a luxury experience worth setting aside a morning for: The Balcon.
Neatly situated in the five-star Sofitel St. James on Lower Regent Street, where the exterior feel more Paris than London – specifically where rue des Pyramides intersects with rue de Rivoli – and the interior is spectacularly appointed around the focal point: a delicate balcony flanked by two gently spiralling, wooden staircases, but it’s the food that will have you making The Balcon your new weekend brunch spot.
A boozy brunch is the perfect way to spend a Sunday and any meal that begins with champagne gets our stamp of approval. But it’s not just champagne. The singular get-up-from-your-seat attraction at The Balcon is a DIY (or with the help of a mixologist) Bloody Mary Bar. Overflowing with vegetables, fresh-pressed tomato and pepper juices, hot sauces, brown sauces, a selection of vodkas from Britain’s own Chase and blending accoutrements, it’s an exceptional way to make sure your Bloody Mary is 100% your Bloody Mary.
On to the food. Balcon has clearly researched how to assemble the perfect brunch. While you peruse the menu, you can nibble on fresh baskets of viennoiserie and homemade bread, accompanied by a pad of unsalted butter and salted butter, both French of course. Choosing is really difficult, as everything has been carefully crafted for pleasure. From the Main section we finally settled on corn and halloumi fritters with avocado and chorizo. If you have ever breakfasted in the southwest of America, this dish hit all the flavours with the European addition of rocket. Nodding to a slightly more Asian-inspired main, the soft shell crab with celeriac remoulade and a fried egg roll was all about texture and it took the breakfast sandwich to new heights. There is a Grill section, a Fruits & Seeds section, Eggs & Co, and a Side section, but our next move was from Sweet range.
You would think three choices would make it easy, but it wasn’t. After prolonged deliberation, we went for the brioche French toast with mixed berry compote, slathered in a healthy dollop of lemon curd. The French toast was thick and eggy and oh so good. Part two was the pistachio waffle with strawberries and Sauternes cream. If you fancy yourself a bit of a waffle aficionado, which we do, you must try this waffle. Dare we say it? It is the best waffle we have ever eaten. The whisper of pistachio baked into the batter is genius.
We’ve earmarked a few things that we have to try on our next visit – the croquet madame with raclette cheese and duck egg, the poached lobster and avocado eggs Benedict and the banana, coconut and blueberry pancakes with cinnamon mascarpone.
Weekend Brunch at The Balcon is £49 per person and includes free-flowing champagne, a Chase Bloody Mary, a selection of viennoiseries, one savoury dish and one sweet dish or two parisienne pastries.
Words by Courtney Blackman