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Review: Newly Renovated Harrison’s Restaurant & Bar in Balham

BY Boon Koh
Published 26 February 2013
Our Review Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

Balham has no shortage of good restaurants – indeed, the area has slowly been attracting more and more interesting places to eat. Harrison’s has been around for some time and has been one of the best restaurants in the area. It recently underwent a renovation and expansion into the basement, with the creation of a new cool cocktail bar. How does its new menu stack up?

I’ve passed by so many times past Harrison’s but never dined there – but I went recently after their renovation, on the invitation of the owners. It was a bitterly cold night outside below zero, and stepping in to Harrison’s, with its slightly industrial but warm look, was very welcoming. If you’ve been to Pizza East up in Shoreditch or Caravan at Kings Cross, you get the kind of vibe and décor at Harrison’s.

We were seated next to the open-plan kitchen, which I think were the best seats in the house! It was a pleasure to watch the chefs busy with their orders, and to see the dishes slowly constructed, ingredient by ingredient, especially the burgers:

  harrisons burgers being prepared

harrisons open plan kitchen

The drinks menu at Harrison’s is extensive – and surprisingly, with a good range of non-alcoholic cocktails too. The place is certainly family friendly, despite its more adult atmosphere, which I guess is a must in family friendly Balham! I can’t remember the cocktails we had, but here are the pictures:

  harrisons non alcoholic cocktail 1

harrisons non alcoholic cocktail 2

The food menu has a good mix of dishes from around the world – although nothing extremely exotic, and mostly British or continental. The most exotic dish is probably the Goan fish curry, which could in all fairness make it a top twenty British list of dishes given its ubiquity amongst the many Indian restaurants in the UK. It was nice though to see some creativity and interesting combinations, like the Welsh rarebit pork chop:

welsh rarebit pork chop

Who would have thought cheese and pork would go well together?

There were also lamb belly fritters with pumpkin puree and salsa verde, which I had for starters, and thoroughly recommend:

lamb belly fritters with pumpkin puree

 The tender pieces of lamb were very well cooked, and I think it was interesting having the sourness of the salsa verde contrasting the sweet pumpkin puree. But what was up with the random rocket leaves on top?

My dining partner went for the traditional pint of prawns with bloody marie rose, as well as the bog-standard bistro dish of roast line caught atlantic cod, with buttered leeks, clams, and salsa verde:

pint of prawns

roast cod with clams and leeks

The verdict on those two British staples? Well executed, but nothing to write home about.

As you can see from the pictures, the mains portions are quite big, making the dishes rather quite value for money. We were so full that we decided to split a dessert – and went for a crème brulee with chocolate ice cream on top. Again, an interesting combination. The crème brulee was caramelised just right (which is hard to get right sometimes!) and the chocolate ice cream was… well… chocolate ice cream. But the combination together – was a bit odd. Suffice to say, I won’t be trying to recreate that combination at home!

creme brulee with chocolate ice cream

Harrison’s is one of the top restaurants in Balham, and I think it does deserve that crown with its new menu and interesting décor. It’s a great place to go for good food that is slightly adventurous. It won’t win any Michelin stars or be on Time Out’s top value eats in London. But it gets the middle-of-the-road formula right – a neighbourhood place you can go to regularly, get good food and drinks, not cost an arm and a leg, and where the service is really friendly.

Harrison’s Restaurant & Bar
Address: 15-19 Bedford Hill, London SW12 9EX
Opening Hours: Breakfast (9-12am daily), Lunch (12-4pm daily), Dinner (6-10:30pm Mon-Sat, 6-10pm Sun)
Reservations: 020 8675 6900
Website: www.harrisonsbalham.co.uk