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Summary

As a “good bet for a business lunch” or other West End rendezvous, this ex-bank off Trafalgar Square offers “wonderful architecture” and “a posh French bistro-style menu”, which most – if not all – reporters say is “better than your typical, upmarket, chain-hotel brasserie”.

£65
Average
Average
Average
* Based on a three course dinner, half a bottle of wine, coffee, cover charge, service and VAT.

Summary

“A perfect location for people coming from different areas” and “pretty consistent” cooking can make this “pleasant” hotel brasserie, off Trafalgar Square, an “ideal venue” for business or pre-theatre; on the downside, it can seem rather “empty”.

£59
Average
Good
Average
* Based on a three course dinner, half a bottle of wine, coffee, cover charge, service and VAT.

Summary

Just off Trafalgar Square, this “grand” brasserie, in a “fancy” French hotel, is just the job for a business lunch or “decent pre-theatre” bite; for more serious dining, though, the cuisine can seem rather “ordinary”.

£59
Average
Average
Good
* Based on a three course dinner, half a bottle of wine, coffee, cover charge, service and VAT.

Summary

“Large”, “airy” and “relaxed”, and just by Trafalgar Square too – this “reliable” brasserie certainly makes a handy West End rendezvous; the pre-theatre menu, in particular, is “hard to beat”.

£60
Good
Good
Good
* Based on a three course dinner, half a bottle of wine, coffee, cover charge, service and VAT.

Have you eaten at The Balcon, Sofitel St James?

Restaurant details

Yes
Highchair, Menu, Portions,
Yes
10.45 pm, Sat & Sun 9.45 pm

The Balcon, Sofitel St James Restaurant Diner Reviews

Reviews of The Balcon, Sofitel St James Restaurant in SW1, London by users of Hardens.com. Also see the editors review of The Balcon, Sofitel St James restaurant.
Carolyn H
Had the set pre-theatre meal which was good...
Reviewed 6 months, 28 days ago

"Had the set pre-theatre meal which was good value."

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Antoneta H
Expensive for what you get...
Reviewed 10 months,

"Expensive for what you get"

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Harden's says...

The Balcon SW1

On a grand scale, an unnecessarily fussily-conceived Theatreland brasserie; it offers a long and unduly esoteric charcuterie-heavy menu, and an extensive wine selection, all at very high prices.


Why did it upset me so much, I wondered? In the middle of this grandiosely decorated, almost Ruritanian, St James's brasserie stands a candelabra with half a dozen lit white candles. Nothing wrong with that.


Except that it stands on a podium, itself carefully lit - no doubt at great expense - with hidden electric lights. Whatever the opposite of 'form follows function' is, this is it - the sort of thing you presumably might find in the highest class of brothel. Its effortful striving is a surefire sign that no real character will ever flourish here.


The same striving is evident in the menu, which goes out of its way to offer a plethora of choices, few of which you may actually want. Oddly for a Gallic hotel group, the decision has been taken that these former banking hall premises should not be the straightforward brasserie to which they are well suited (and as which, under the Roux banner, they formerly traded). No, here there's a lot of fuss about charcuterie, and sourcing, and ' well, let's just say it's one of those places where waitresses ask if you're 'familiar with the concept'.


Why on earth would you want to be? We are in the heart of Theatreland: a place where menus should not need explaining. The next table was occupied by a German mother-and-schoolgirl couple. They were talking a lot about 'fish and chips' (auf Englisch), bemoaning - I assumed - the absence of this British classic from the Karte. Or much else in the way of straightforward food. People in hotels often want simple food. Theatre-goers don't need 'concepts'. And foreigners, in particular, don't need anything which requires explaining.


I picked my way through the menu - as irritating in its layout as its content - to secure a plain supper of onion soup (not bad), Cornish brill (fractionally overcooked) and a cocotte of plain vegetables (hurrah, what I wanted).


The pudding menu was considerably less vexing than the main one and I enjoyed my trou normand (sorbet with a shot) with some slightly dry doughnuts. The espresso (£4.50) wasn't bad either.


Ah yes, the price question. The businessman's dinner described, for one, with two glasses of basic wine, came to £70-odd. With a glass of champagne beforehand, a bill of £100 - for one - could have been achieved without the least difficulty. And that would have been without the least extravagance on the wine selection: the long list here bamboozles with its range and expense, not least, the range of Krugs it offers.


Who are they trying to impress? Certainly not me.


See the Review
8 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5NG
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Opening hours

Mon - Fri 6.30 am - 11 pm; Sat & Sun 7 am - 10 pm
Last orders: 10.45 pm, Sat & Sun 9.45 pm

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