Hg2 : The Hedonist


If Old Compton Street is Soho’s gay parade, Balans – buzzy, clubby, queeny – is the Gossip central of cafes in London. Dishing up bear-sized portions of trusty British, French, Italian and Asian staples through much of the night (steaks, burgers, roasts, grilled fish, Thai curries and all-day breakfasts – the perfect post-clubbing replenishment), Balans has served succour to many a spurned lover, and with its lethal cocktails and happy hour, has seen a scandal or two in its time. Not that you need to be part of the queen scene: Balans offers some of the finest anthropological moments in London (Balans’ branches in Kensington, Earls Court, Westfield and Chiswick are all plain Janes to Soho’s saucy Suzy; there’s also Balans Café, at 34 Old Compton Street, but this is the epicentre). If it’s late, get a booth at the back for swapping tales of shamelessness – though eavesdropping will do (we recommend swallowing the shock with one of their exemplary Cosmopolitans); by day, secure a table in the window and watch the world and his pretty boy go by.

60 Old Compton Street,
+44 20 7439 2183
Opening Times
daily, 8am-5am (6am Fri/Sat, 2am Sun)
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