Lucie Loves… Food // Review: My Mate Date with Miss Wong. Dinner at The Balcon, Sofitel London St James

This October I’ll have lived in London for a whole 5 years. I moved down, back in 2012, for a job at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Despite being here now for half a decade, there are still so many fabulous London hotels that I’ve yet to visit – The Savoy, Claridges and The Ritz being just a few of the ones on my list still to review.

If you read this blog regularly, as blog perks go, the foodie opportunities are always some of  our faves. The chance came up to have dinner at another of London’s luxury hotel offerings; The Balcon, located at the 5-star Sofitel London St James – one of the higher-end offering from the Accor Hotels group. 

Having never been here before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I took along my friend Pauline, and made it an opportunity to have a good catch up. Pauline and I met in 2012, when I moved into the tiniest box room ever, in Hammersmith. She really took me under her wing, and fast became one of my best friends. Unlike me, she had visited Sofitel London before, and thought the elaborate floral rug in the hotel foyer was something I’d love! I had to agree. I adore a good floral print.

The Balcon is a French bistro-style restaurant, in the heart of St James, serving breast & brunch, lunch & dinner and afternoon tea. It’s soaring ceilings and namesake balcony make for stunning surroundings. We’re both a fan of red, so opted for a bottle of Pinot Noir between us.

Our waiter recommended the lobster thermidor croquettes, £9 and grilled gambas, polenta, roast tomato, saffron aioli £12-£18, to start. We then ordered the confit duck leg, spring pea, apple & mint risotto with truffle jus, £21 and whole dover sole meunière, baby potatoes, brown shrimp butter, £35 for main. We finished off the evening with the lemon curd, rhubarb, coconut baked alaska, £8 and a glass of rose champagne, and Pauline had the roasted pineapple with chocolate ganache for dessert.

In hindsight, being such a warm evening, I kind of regretted ordering the duck risotto, as it was a little heavy. I should have gone for fish, like Pauline.

Over all, the decor was pretty, the service was attentive – and in-keeping with its elegant surroundings, but the music and the ambience in the restaurant didn’t quite do it for me. The Balcon felt a bit too formal, for just a standard Wednesday night dinner with your mate, but it’s perfect for business meetings, or fancier occasions. The adjoining St James Bar has a new cocktail menu too, which I’ve heard is definitely worth checking out – if you’re just in the market for drinks.

Take a look at The Balcon menu and make a reservation online.

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Photography © Lucie Kerley