|Perfect balans on the High Road|
“Gay” restaurant makes an impressive start in Chiswick
To describe the make-over of JackStamps as extreme would have to be the understatement of the millennium. Even with exterior plywood still exposed, balans has taken an unsightly, albeit peculiarly popular, drinking den and not only turned it into a funky café but have also managed to fill it with a wonderfully eclectic mix of celebrity, camp and commonplace clientele.
Balans opened its doors on the Chiswick High Road on Monday and waiting staff have barely had a moment to take a breath since. The décor, which comprises of deep crimson walls and dark wooden flooring lightened by a wall of glass bricks, manages to merge contemporary and classic perfectly and create a relaxed, informal atmosphere. The artwork adorning the walls has been chosen with noticeable respect to local talent and includes a wonderful mural of the celebrated Chiswick artist William Hogarth with his equally notorious pooch.
The latest addition to the balans chain which has traditionally had a large clientele from the gay communities in Soho and Kensington, Chiswick’s ‘New York style’ brunch and dinner menus have been created “with emphasis on simple dishes, grills, sautés and roasts which have been created using high quality fresh ingredients that complement the comprehensive wine list and reasonable prices.” In everyday terms this translates as the best meal my dining companions and I have had in quite some time which was further enhanced by a particularly warm welcome and excellent, considerate and non intrusive service. And if I am starting to sound rather gushy, you would only have to ask my dining companions and the never ending stream of fellow contented customers to verify that fact that finally something a little different has come on the Chiswick High Road to bring us light relief from pizza and pasta.
I can personally vouch for the outstanding balans’ burger (char-grilled ground beef with melted swiss cheese and crispy bacon, fries and salad), the sublime pan fried sea bass with crushed new potatoes, sauté spinach and chive cream sauce and the wonderful roast corn-fed chicken with boulangère potatoes, peas and chicken jus which was all washed down with a bottle or two (okay maybe it was three!) of an excellent Chilean Merlot. Including our two shared starters of calamari with green herb dip and quesadillas (mexicana cheese, mango salsa and sour cream), our bill came to a very respectable £28 per person.
The ample outdoor seating offers a perfect opportunity for brunch al fresco or pre dinner drinks under the stars and choosing from the extensive menu is just about the most taxing experience you’ll have on a visit here.
Open for breakfast from 8am, lunch and dinner until midnight, balans caters for all tastes at all times. Considering they managed to please four very demanding women who all can’t wait for an opportunity to return, in my opinion balans will prove to be as popular amongst Chiswick’s diners as Jack Stamps aka The Windmill once was amongst Chiswick’s drinkers.
Booking for dinner is recommended.
June 22, 2005