Buzzy gay brasserie
The most recognized name in casual high-definition-gay dining, Balans caters to carnivores and vegetarians with a one-of-each-style international menu at this and other branches. It's a very lively establishment and comfortingly gay, especially for first-time visitors, with an open front conveniently looking onto Soho catwalk Old Compton St. However, the 'cooking' is considerably less than vital, and prices are not at all budget, especially given the quality on offer. Other outlets are located in Kensington (with the oddly named Balans Soho Society), Chiswick, Shepherd's Bush (Westfield shopping mall) and Stratford in east London (the other Westfield mall). There's also a smaller Balans café operating round-the-clock at 34 Old Compton St — a one-minute walk from this Soho mothership. This establishment, formerly Old Compton Cafe in its 1990s heyday, will subsume three adjacent dead businesses and reopen (as Soho Café) in late 2015. As of 2014 Balans closed its outlet in former gay ghetto Earls Court.