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Review: Harrison's, Balham
Balham brasserie Harrison’s has been up and running for five years and has quickly become the go to restaurant for fine dining in the area.
The restaurant, located in Bedford Hill, serves up modern British cuisine in slick surroundings, yet manages to do so without being pretentious.
As I’m lead to my table I notice the dining and drinking areas are divided, with a huge open kitchen in the centre of the restaurant so you can view your meal being created before your eyes.
The clientele seem a friendly bunch of people in semi-casual dress or after work diners. It seemed as if you could turn up in a hoodie or a ball-dress and nobody would bat an eyelid.
Restaurant manager Jenny Broad kindly goes through the menu and is happy to offer recommendations, explaining it changes from week to week.
But first off all we needed to decide what to wash the meal down with, deciding to go for a bottle of white wine, Picpoul de Pinet priced at £22.30.
Visitors to the restaurant can take advantage of an early bird set menu, giving the option of two courses for £13.50 or three for £16.50 if you get there before 7pm. Unfortunately, we’re too late to snap up this offer and pick courses from the main menu, which is made up of a range of pastas, steak, burgers, salad and seafood to suit all tastes.
For starter I decide to go for the chicken liver parfait, which comes served with a red onion marmalade and toasted sourdough (£7.50). The parfait is deliciously smooth and is complimented by the tangy marmalade. My guest opts for English broad bean, pea, rosary goats’ cheese and pancetta salad (£6.50) which looks fresh and wholesome.
It isn’t long before our main courses are served, with both of us choosing to go for seafood. I tuck into one of my favourite dishes which I’m happy to see on the menu – shellfish linguine with bisque, tiger prawns, squid and salmon (£12.50). The dish is filled with fresh flavours, with a kick of lime added to the tomato sauce, and the chefs seem to have mastered the recipe.
My friend went for the roasted Icelandic cod, served with a butter bean, chorizo and shallot cassoulet (£15). We also enjoyed a side serving of green beans and almonds (£3.50), which make a surprisingly good combination.
By now we have to undo our belts a few notches, but before we know it the waiter is bringing over the desert menu. I’m tempted by a mango and mint panna cotta, perfect to end the meal with and clear the palate while my friend is served a giant strawberry Eton mess from the specials menu.
Before we leave Jenny tells us the restaurant is set to be refurbished next year, with the private booking room downstairs getting an update and more space for diners. I’m excited to see how it will turn out and hope to visit again when it is completed.
I would sum up Harrison’s as a small haven for people looking for good grub in friendly surroundings, just what you want from your local brasserie.