Balham has come a long way since Peter Sellers lampooned it as ‘Bal-Ham gateway to the south’ in the early 60’s. These days Balham boasts a great variety of bars and restaurants, something rather unthinkable even just a decade ago, all buoyed up by the reams of positive equity that the local property market has acquired during the last decade and a bit.
The Foxlow itself is one of the newest additions to the Balham dining scene. This is the fourth branch of the chain to open, since the original first opened its doors about 3 years ago and replaces the long serving but rather unloved Harrison’s brasserie. Situated near Lost & Found and just across the high street from Waitrose and the Balham Bowls Club, so pretty central to the new trendy Balham.
Both myself and the Delightful Dining Companion (DDC.) were excited about the night as this time and holding nothing back we’d been invited by the Foxlow’s PR company to come down and review the place. This was in a sense our first official mission and on the night the DDC dressed appropriately and looked stunning, whilst the mirror seemed to tell a rather different story in my case.
Splashing out and taking a cab down we soon arrived at our destination. The Foxlow is about as long as it’s deep and therefore presents a rather imposing frontage to the world. Inside the lights burned low and feast of good taste muted browns and bieges met the eyes. Perhaps not the most innovative style for an eatery but still very comfortable. One thing I think we both immediately noticed was the buzzy feel. Yes the dining room was busy, to be expected somewhat when a new high profile joint opens, but it was also down to the feeling that the amount of staff seemed slightly higher than expected.
The DDC when asked also felt the dining room had a nice ambiance with music that was audible, but not too intrusive. The room is smartly decorated, but not in an over fussy way.
We were quickly seated on the far side of the dining room from the door, from where we could just about look into the open kitchen. Now this is a place famous for its meat, and especially steak which is supplied by speciality butcher the ginger pig. Unlike some places though for those who didn’t want steak and in fact didn’t want red meat at all the menu had made strong efforts to accommodate them. I was impressed by the menu actually, it wasn’t that complicated or long but there seemed to be quite a lot of choice.
Whilst mulling this over, one of the various waiters appeared and asked whether we’d like a drink before dinner. Well ask a silly question. The DDC is quite the aperol spritz connoisseur, and was delighted to be told that there was a frozen version on the cocktail menu. I went for a helicon one, a mixture of smoked tea, cognac and sherry. They arrived promptly with the DDC’s looking as you’d expect like you’d made an aperol flavour slush puppy. It was a good measure though, especially when compared to mine which was served in a traditional liqueur glass, it turned out though that it was equally gifted in flavour brevity and strength.
To get our appetites going, we had decided to have a quick munch on some anchovy and goat’s butter crisps. These again were extremely flavourful, but with the goats butter cutting the usual overpowering taste of anchovies back down to size. As we were making our way through these it transpired that our cocktails had managed to empty themselves and more fortification in the form of wine was needed. We received expert help from a waiter who listened to what our orders were and made a string suggestion for a bottle of Brin D’Epice, a wine I had never heard. Not to jump too far ahead in the story it fitted the food exceptionally well, was good value (he could have sold us anything) and was a in general a great recommendation delivered by someone who’d been a bar man up until the evening before.
For my starter I had chosen a salmon crudo, which was actually a pretty plentiful potion to start with. Cured salmon is not to everyone’s taste but it is to mine and this was very well done. Served in vinegar with a garnish of chives, cress and chilli pieces it was a great way to start the meal.
The DDC chose the Burrata. This she felt was light, refreshing with delicious flavours that complemented each other. Subtle and not overpowering and not overly oily. She awarded it a rare 10 out of 10.
I had decided to have a steak for my main course as I don’t think you can judge a place until you try their speciality. Having had two big meat meals on consecutive nights beforehand, this was going to present them with a challenge in terms of impressing me. From where I sat I could see a board with that days special cuts of steak listed. This included rib eyes, sirloins as well as bigger cuts like porterhouse and T-Bone. To be honest these coming in usually at least at 400 grams would have perhaps been more than I’d have been comfortable with. Still I did go for a 35 day dry aged rib eye, with béarnaise sauce and a side order of steamed greens.
This came well presented with a side order of marrowbone (a real love or loathe addition, which I loved) and chips. The steak itself was delicious with the perfect aged taste coming through. Cooked medium to ensure that the fat had melted it was presented as ordered. The chips were good, but the surprising dish here was the steamed greens which included Brussel sprouts on the vine as it were and proved to be as nice as they were unexpected.
For the main course the DDC went for the beef rib with a side of macaroni cheese. Well in her own words the rib was incredible, with meat that was soft, tasty and fell straight off the bone. It was served with a small side of kimchi which again was ti her taste. She was similarly wowed by the side of macaroni cheese, which she described as cheesy deliciousness, so I think she was happy. Her verdict here, just eat it.
I hate to say this but we couldn’t face dessert, I know when trying somewhere new and for the benefit of others you should really give everything a go, but to be honest I don’t think either of us would have been able to find room. Space was found instead for a couple of after dinner drinks, calvados for me and her first ever taste of Benedictine for the DDC. Both were well chosen and went down well.
In full disclosure we didn’t pay the bill here as we’d been invited by the PR company. The manager however insisted that only he knew about this and that we were treated like any other customer that night. I think he’s right, the waiters didn’t try and steer us too much to anything particularly expensive or fancy and they did look rather lost when they went to get our bill. If we had of paid the bill would have been £136, which yes is pricey, but not so bad when you consider it was for an appetizer in the genuine sense, two starters, two main courses, sides, drinks & wine and more drinks.
I had a thoroughly enjoyable night there and would go back. This is the sort of place that would be great for a catch up with friends, birthdays, date nights, double dates. The food is good, it’s smart, but it’s not formal so you can feel relaxed. They’ve made a great start here. I hope that they can continue.
(Between the Bedford and the Bowls Club)
15-19 Bedford Hill,
Monday – Friday
12pm – 3pm
10am – 3pm
Monday – Thursday
5.30pm – 10pm
5.30pm – 10.30pm
5pm – 10.30pm
10am – 9pm
Christmas Opening Hours
The restaurant will be closed between 24th December and 28th December.