Balham is a part of London that I have not been to before. It is one of those London neighbourhoods where you would benefit from some local knowledge.
I am now deeply envious of the locals in Balham since my recent visit to Harrison’s. They have recently undergone a refurbishment and the new layout has an open kitchen in the middle of the dining area.
On the night we were there, the bar was busy with some local after work crowd and the dining area was filled with early diners. The bistro style menu is not extensive, but has a lot of seasonal choices.It might look like a bar and you would probably expect the usual offerings of burgers and fish and chips but look beyond your usual choices and you won’t be disappointed here.
We sat at one of the banquette seats facing the open kitchen where we could see the chefs assembling the dishes. The central open kitchen separated the dining area from the bar area and all the activity created a lively buzz in the room.
Moving swiftly on to our delicious meal, we started with a very generous plate of lamb belly fritters, not something that you see on menus very often. Nice crispy pieces of meat, well seasoned and a joy to eat. The other starter we had was a very sizeable the crab trifle.
For mains, my friend had the Goan fish curry with rice which was again quite substantial. There was a mix of fish in the curry cooked in a light coconut curry sauce and this was served with rice, raita and some side salad.
I had the day’s fish special which was a very nicely pan fried piece of fish on top of some shellfish and a lovely sauce. It was delightful.
On the side, we had the most delicious crispy kale with pickled chilli and this is possibly my favourite vegetable side dishes ever. The kale was still crunchy, slightly sweet with a spicy kick. Seriously sensational. (Not often you can say that about a plate of leafy greens).
With hardly any room left, we shared a lemon tart for pudding. The thin pastry was well executed with a super tangy lemon topping. Superb.
The cooking at Harrison’s is very good. It’s not surprising as the menu has creative input from the others in the family like Sam’s Brasserie, The Square and The Ledbury.
What was most impressive is their effervescent General Manager, Jenny, who was super friendly and enthusiastic but has now taken off on a world tour. What a great asset to this restaurant. All the other staff we encountered were very knowledgable and friendly too.
If the fabulous food does not grab you, check out their cocktail bar in the basement. You get there by an almost medieval looking spiral stone staircase. At the bottom, you get a very intimate cosy cocktail bar with dark wood panelling, subdued lighting and a large cocktail menu.
It is obviously a real local favourite as it was packed the night we were there. The bar is open until 1am and there is a special deal where you get a free cocktail with your dinner receipt.
If you live anywhere near Balham, do check it out. It is a cut above.
15-19 Bedford Hill, London SW12 9EX
Tel: 020 3589 2743
Eat Cook Explore was a guest of Harrisons