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
Damage: Reasonable
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.

Balans on Urbanspoon


  1. Oh deary me. For somewhere to do breakfast they should be damn sure they can cook eggs properly.

    I have been to the Balans in Soho many times, but admittedly this is because they serve booze till 4am and I’ve never actually eaten there.

  2. Had a brain fart there, read Balans and brain understood balut instead. Eeeks!

  3. I must say that I love Balans but I do find each one slightly different. The past two Sundays I have had brunch at Westfield branch and it has been a lovely experience. No burnt coffee and the poached eggs were perfect.

    The last time I was at the Earl’s Court branch, I must say I was not impressed by my breakfast burritto.

  4. I used to go past the branch in Kensington High St all the time but never ever went in there. I didn’t realise there were so many of them!

  5. I have to agree with Lizzie – I’ve been to Soho’s branch quite a few times for the late booze, the only time I happened to it there, I was quite disappointed.

    I will not be trying their Earl’s Court branch after your review though.

  6. Lizzie – I know it can’t be that hard – maybe best to stick to the booze!
    Kavey – What’s balut I am confused?
    Viviana – That’s a good point, there are a few Balans in London so hopefully the other ones are better
    Sarah – I didn’t realise that either!
    The London Foodie – looks like sticking to drinks only is the way to go

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