East London

Published on August 15th, 2016 | by Clarissa Waldron


Balans, Stratford City

Balans, Stratford City Clarissa Waldron

Summary: The recent facelift is not the only reason to come to this Stratford branch


Fantastic Tuna

A stalwart of Westfield Stratford shopping centre, Balans Soho Society has recent been revived and given a makeover which features a brand new outdoor seating terrace. Located a stone’s throw from Stratford station, those who walk the well-worn path of the Street on their way to the shopping mecca will certainly be familiar with this London staple (they have locations in Central and West London).

Eager to check out its latest look we visited the Stratford branch one quiet Sunday to give the menu and outdoor terrace a whirl. The new extension is comes complete with a large seating area, and the design means it stays within the restaurant’s confines, rather than plonking you out onto the Street itself. So there’s no chance of someone’s shopping knocking over your glass of wine; one thing to note- though technically an outside seating area, the terrace is a non-smoking area due to the Street being a glass-roof covered pedestrian zone.


After ordering starters of Chickpeas falafel, hummus and Smoked Almond Brie with white truffle honey we chose a Pinot Noir, Pasarisa from Argentina, a medium bodied wine which boasted soft cherries and strawberries on the nose and a spicy chocolate edge. This was quite a daring choice considering the starter options but the wine held its own, its flavour profile enhancing the richness of the hummus and the saltiness of the almond brie. So put with unusual pairings, we were pleasantly surprised by the versatility of this Pinot Noir.


While still praising our first choices, our seconds arrived beautifully presented. The Sesame Tuna Steak was joined by jasmine rice, bok choi and garlic and ginger soy. Now I’m always a fan of tuna steak, in any country, but I have to say this was the best I’d ever tried. The addition of the sesame crust added much piquancy to a meat I’d always considered worthy enough of being served bare. So all in all, I think from now on, it will have to be sesame crusted all the way! The soy sauce was also another highlight here, adding an extra zesty touch of savoury to the spread.

Proving comforting and sizeable the Lemon Thyme Roasted Chicken with Jersey royals, smoked bacon, spring onion, pea & wild garlic sauce did not disappoint; with the tenderness of the chicken and the abundant spread of the delicious pea and wild garlic sauce was much appreciated.


With things going so well we were keen to explore the sweet side of the menu (of course!) Sadly much of the menu here is based on cream (which I have a major aversion to) so the only option I could go for here was the Warm Orange Polenta Cake with vanilla poached apricots & I swapped the crème fraiche for mango sorbet. This was a pleasant enough choice although I’m not sure the poached apricots are necessary, in that they bring a sour tartness that didn’t particularly enhance the sweet cake itself, which was spongy and light.


Conversely, the White Chocolate & Black Cherry Mousse Cake with dark chocolate sorbet is more dense and richer than one would expect. Looking not too dissimilar to a dark chocolate cake, we came to learn that the white chocolate is actually melted down and mixed through the cake batter which sadly masks its flavour profile. Perhaps go with the Banoffee Pie or Coconut Rum Panna Cotta if you’re angling for some white chocolate as the mousse won’t scratch that itch.

With an interior crafted around the vision of Simon Costin, who has worked with Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney and Hermés, this eclectic bar and restaurant , dotted with vintage and modern trinkets, dolls, board games and music instruments, is a mishmash of class, poise, quality, friendliness and fantastic food.


Balans Stratford City, Ground Floor, 123 The Street, Westfield Stratford City, E20 1EN

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