There’s one thing you can be certain of, and it’s the fact that one will never be short of places to eat in Soho. Hundreds of restaurants – cafes, chains, independents, traditional, adventurous, gimmicky, legendary – all pitting their sharp elbows against each other to draw in the crowds.
I love it. Soho is London life, in my eyes. Which is why I was delighted to find myself heading down to Greek Street with PA Laura to sample what Balls & Company had to offer. For a vegetarian, Laura was incredibly optimistic about a meatball-based menu.
I did wonder that her optimism about their being only one vegetarian choice on the main-course menu being misplaced, but intrigued by the overall premise we headed inside.
The decor is lo-fi, unfussy. This is not to be taken of a sign as anything other than a clever proprietor wanting the focus to remain on the quality of the food. Although empty when we walked in, the intimate space soon filled, and left me able to believe our lovely waiter’s claim that ‘people have been queuing out of the door in the evening’.
First, cocktails. Being midday, and having work to do, we had to choose only one, and carefully, from a list of six (a diverse and reasonably priced range of wines are also available). Laura’s was the supreme choice – the zingy Gin Dilla, with hints of cucumber, dill and lemon balm. My choice, the Company Iced Tea, was nice enough but rather too much like an alcoholic Innocent smoothie for it to raise massive interest.
Now – to the menu. Without having a clue how a ‘meatball-based’ menu was supposed to work in actuality, we placed ourselves in the hands of the aforementioned lovely waiter, Ollie. He explained that each portion of balls comes in a set of four, and you select and accompanying sauce from a list including pesto, classic tomato and an especially cheese-laden bechamel.
Trusting Ollie even further, we asked him to give us the best of what Balls & Company had to offer. He smiled sagely
‘Wagyu beef balls. Quinoa, beetroot and feta balls (the only vegetarian option), the mac and cheese arancini balls from the specials menu, and one of our salads, which are changed depending on the availability of local produce.Pesto for the quinoa balls. Tomato for the beef’.
Speaking of local produce, Balls & Company are (rightly) proud of their relationships with their mainly UK-based providers, which include Blythburg Pork for the pork balls, Breckland Orchard and Highland Wagyu for the beef balls.
Aren’t they, I asked Ollie, the cows that are so prized they are given massages?
That extremely well informed young man smiled again
‘These cows are treated so well, and bred with such care, that they are post massage quality, without the massage. These are the happiest cows you will find. As are the chickens.’
With that he headed towards the kitchen, to return in due course with a veritable feast. Any apprehension Laura and I had about the sparsity of our order was laid to rest by the sight of more-than-reasonably sized arancini balls, abundant salad (corguette, mint, fennel, masses of parmesan), and the main event wagyu, and quinoa balls blanketed in lashings of sauce.
The wagyu (medium rare, seductively pink in the middle) were an utter treat. Ollie’s choice of tomato sauce was genius – the meat needs as little excess frippery as possible. Laura’s quinoa balls were purple with beetroot, earthy, and not overly studded with feta, meaning that the pesto worked in harmony with the beetroot with as little complication as possible.
While eating I marvelled at how, for just a few pounds more than a luxury sandwich, you could have yourself a portion of delightful balls and sauce. I’m sure our fellow diners – the restaurant was now filling – would agree.
We were so well taken care of by our mains that we had to turn down the enticing offer of dessert. Next time we go…and there will be a next time…I predict we will be unable to resist the Brownie with Persian Fairy Floss.
Even in such a densely populated culinary environment as Soho, After Nyne predict a bright future for Balls & Company. We can’t praise it highly enough.
Balls & Company
58 Greek St
Monday – Saturday
Midday – 11pm
Reservations for 8+ only
Enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org