If you live in London, January is not a great time of year to have a birthday. The weather is dismal and everyone is hibernating after too many Christmas and New Year festivities. This was the dilemma that my friend Kirsten faced when trying to organise a celebration for her January birthday. She decided the solution was to go out for breakfast rather than dinner or drinks and so on a Saturday morning MTV boyfriend and I headed to Balans in Earls Court for a birthday brunch.
Three egg omelette
In both menu and appearance Balans is a London version of an American diner. There is high backed brown leather bench seating, bright pops of red in the wallpaper and lighting and a sunny breakfast menu featuring stars and stripes classics such as pancakes with bacon. When our order arrived the portions were also American in style, by which I mean generous. The “full English” could have fed a small family with two eggs, sausage, bacon, tomato, beans, mushrooms, potatoes and toast (£7.50). Disappointingly though the eggs were over poached and were leaning towards being rubbery rather than runny.
A better option was the three egg omelette which was offered with a choice of fillings such as ham, mushroom or smoked salmon (£7.50). It was served on top of a mound of “Balans potatos” which were moreish cubes of fried potato. The pancakes, served in a stack and topped with fresh fruit salad (£5.75), were also very good indeed. They were fluffy and thick pillows served piping hot. We drank bellinis (£7) to toast the birthday girl and they were just the thing to perk us up although the burnt coffee (£2.20) that followed dragged us right back down.
Balans may be American in style but every American diner worth its salt knows that the key to breakfast is good eggs and coffee. Admittedly, the fried potatoes are fabulous but I don’t think they are enough alone to tempt me back to Balans.
Details: 239 Old Brompton Road, Earls Court Sw5 9HP (Ph 020 7244 8838) Tube: Earls Court
If you liked reading this you might like reading about other Gourmet Chick reviews of breakfasts in London, at the Antipodean cafe Lantana in Soho or my local breakfast spot, Raoul’s in Notting Hill.