There is nothing like a touch of French flair to add a flavour of romance to a night out and transform it into something special. At The Balcon, the superb restaurant at the Sofitel London St James, this is exactly what you will get. It is the perfect fusion of elegance and refined dining.
Full of soul, the interior, inspired by a typical French brasserie is warm and enticing. The atmosphere is not too formal and is laid-back enough so you can relax.
As soon as we arrived we were greeted warmly and shown to our table. Service was excellent throughout the evening. But, then this is what I have come to expect from Sofitel hotels.
We were offered an aperitif while we decided what to eat. The menu, a melange of classic French and British cuisine is full of innovative dishes. Whether you have a huge appetite or just want a light bite, the choice is excellent.
The selection of small plates is perfect if you fancy sharing with your date or if, like me, you simply can’t make up your mind which starter to have, try a couple of dishes. I went for the grilled squid and Jersey Royal potato salad, with parsley and lemon pesto and gin marinated organic salmon with vegetables à la Grecque. They were both scrumptious.
My companion opted for the Thermidor twice -baked cheese soufflé with native lobster and crème fraîche sauce. I could not resist a mouthful. So light, it melted in my mouth. It would be hard to imagine a better soufflé.
For the mains, both myself and my friend fancied fish so plumped for the North Sea cod, Provençal ratatouille and Niçoise black olives, which was really moist and succulent.
|The Balcon, Sofitel London St James|
If you are on a diet or health-conscious, there is a De-Light menu which has some lovely fish dishes as well as other options that may be low in calories but don’t compromise on flavour.
It is the attention to detail that is impressive. Plenty of effort has gone into sourcing the best ingredients and the presentation is immaculate. This is a restaurant that surely goes that extra mile.
The wine list has plenty of interesting numbers. We opted for a sauvignon blanc, French, bien sûr, which was classy and crisp and went down a treat.
You can’t be in a French restaurant and not have dessert. Although we were both full, the blackberry financier with green apple sorbet and raspberry coulis produced a wonderful combination of flavours to round off the meal beautifully.
The head waiter had discovered it was my friend’s birthday. Out came a gorgeous tray of the most delicious little cakes complete with candle accompanied by a rendering of “Happy Birthday”.
Whether you are going for a special occasion or pushed for time and want a quick croque-monsieur or want to try Tray Rapide (a 3- course meal served on one plate consisting of a small plate, a market special and one dessert) you will leave The Balcon full of wonderful memories.
By Daralyn Danns
For more information about the Sofitel St James visit www.sofitelstjames.com