The problems with blogs is that once a place gains a certain amount of notoriety there's a danger of it becoming so popular that it's impossible to snag a table. This is the case with Lantana, if you can bare an hour plus wait of a Saturday (which sometimes I can, sometimes I can't) then you're fine but if not, like me you'll be roaming around starving in want of some breakfast/lunch/brunch.
When you have guests this is far from ideal, I really want to get to Caravan before it falls prey to the same fate but judged it to be too much of a mission when a couple of weeks ago, Kid and Crann were in town and we wanted a nice brunch. Lantana - no, Breakfast Club - no, bizarrely an even longer queue there. We ended up at Balans on Old Compton St.
Now I have a history with this place. It has, in various guises, been a stalwart destination for me. A place in which to while away the hours between the missed last train back to the depths of Kent and the first train home in the morning. Many cups of coffee required to prevent one from falling asleep on the table. Then, once I'd made the move to London, it became a regular lunch venue. I still miss the vegetarian club with goatscheese and roasted veggies, this was a casualty of the menu revamp a couple of years back.
All this went on in the smaller Balans Cafe at the Charing Cross Rd end of Old Compton Street. This brunch was my first time at the swankier and much camper big sister restaurant at the Wardour St end.
We were seated, given a choice of where we would prefer to sit, I do like to be given the choice, often you're dumped down somewhere close to others, presumably to lessen the walking distance for the waiters. Decor is camp as you like, I love it, it's all sparkles and prints and dark moody lighting. There are 2 menus, full dinner and brunch, we peruse both and settle for brunch. I ordered the crawdaddy club sandwich which promised to contain crayfish, avocado, tomato and rocket on toasted onion bread.
What arrived had no avocado, I almost cried and the bread (no onion that I could discern) cut my mouth to buggery. Good fries though, this was really filling, fresh rocket and a nice amount of crayfish to compensate. I also got a bloody mary which were served in a glass complete with rim dunked in stock, odd. There was a very healthy amount of horseradish floating about, I like that in my bloody mary so this was very welcome.
Crann plumped for the full english and Kid a mini english of eggs, bacon and sausage. Both were very pleased. Crann ordered extra toast and was chuffed to bits with the little pot of jam which came with it.
There's a different menu available between midnight and 6am. I love that they're open 24hrs, if you're too drunk to care it's an absolute winner and with such a varied menu there has to be something for everyone. I shall definitely be back.
60 Old Compton St