60 Old Compton St
020 7439 2183
by Cathy Latte
Shaftsbury Avenue is flooded in brilliant sunlight and framed with a cobalt-blue sky. A girl's ponytail skims my cheek. I nuzzle down into my thick wool scarf and smile, as this is the kind of morning you don’t get where I’m from.
I find James on the kerb. He's fizzing with excitement because he's leaving for Japan tomorrow and doesn’t know if he’ll come back. He’s full of stories about temples and shrines, forests and sushi - I’m so bloody jealous. We’re off to Balans for his farewell breakfast.
My eggs benedict arrives, glowing amber and piping hot. I feel about five, and have to repress a desire to plunge my fat fingers into their fleshy heggispheres to make sunshine finger paintings. They look so much fun, like big yellow happy lumps, it’s a shame to just eat them. James has an interesting approach to his toppling pancake tower, like that of a Jenga master. Apparently it tastes divine. The succulent fruit, dusted with icing, is goo-ed onto the pancakes with rich sticky maple syrup.
We're loving Balans and it’s only made better by the service. Our waitress strikes the perfect balance of sparkly charm and eye catchability and she never, ever outstays her welcome. A little gripe (and purely my own deep-rooted issue, a hangover of a misspent youth), but I have a thing about black tabletops - and Balans have black marble ones. They remind me of that black ash furniture you get in adolescent boys bedrooms. I could almost smell the Blue Stratos hair mousse. But you know what? Even that kind of works.
I don’t know if James will come back to London. I hope he will. But me, I’ll be back in Balans as there are another 23 (23!) breakfast options to try.