Nestled just off Balham high road in southwest London is Sam Harrison`s latest dining venture.
Previously known as the Balham Kitchen & Bar (part of the Soho House Group) it now sees Sam team up with Rick Stein and Rebecca Mascarenhas to create `Harrison`s` – a stylish local brassiere that is all about fresh food, fantastic ingredients and quality service.
Despite having only just opened last October it has already established a healthy reputation for itself. The restaurant was buzzing when I visited last Tuesday evening with a crowd made up of trendy locals catching up over cocktails and dinner.
The interior`s informal lay out is probably part of its success – whether it`s an intimate date or a relaxed meal with friends this place is fab for both.
A decent sized bar sits in the centre surrounded by enough tables to cater for just under a hundred diners and the décor is subtle yet contemporary with a muted palette and plenty of natural light. I`m came under the impression this restaurant doesn`t do cheap gimmicks- it lets the food and drink do the talking.
If you have time I highly recommend a spot of people watching with an aperitif at the bar. Trained mixologist Oli Dyson created a summery gin based number called `Aviator` in an elegant martini glass. The list is extensive but so is Oli`s knowledge so if you can`t decide what to have he`ll help narrow down what will work best for your taste buds.
It`s important not to get too carried away with the cocktails though and remember to leave enough room for the main meal. The portions are generous and the food too good to leave to waste. I opted for asparagus and poached egg starter and then the roasted salmon with cherry tomatoes and fennel as my main. Both were excellent, especially the starter which was kept simple and not `over dressed`. My friend also went down a fishy route by choosing the pint of prawns followed by Cornish cod drizzled in green sauce served with a saffron mash. Apparently they were both excellent and as he left none for me to try I can only assume he was telling the truth…
After two courses, a cocktail and a very drinkable bottle of prosecco neither of us had enough room left to fit in desert. However there appeared to be something for everyone if you fancied something sweet- from a classic sticky toffee pudding to the more exotic sounding white chocolate brulee.
All this was nicely rounded off with coffee and brandies, which left us feeling very spoilt on a weeknight. Throughout the evening the staff bent over backwards to look after us, our waiter Paul made sure we had an extra basket of bread or topping up a glass whenever needed.
I`ll definitely be returning to Harrison`s again and will remember to bring a healthy appetite when I do!
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