Balans Soho Society Café (aka Soho Café) Formerly: Old Compton Cafe

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Soho corner hotspot
In 2015 the ever expanding gay café/brasserie chain Balans stepped up its rebranding as 'Balans Soho Society', and in October reopened its Soho Café following a radical makeover. Subsuming not one but three adjacent closed businesses, the renamed London Soho Society Café completely transformed the corner of Old Compton and Frith Streets with this airy, cosy, urban-rustic café-bar. It has more of a continental thing going on in that it doubles as both drinks café/bar and brasserie, though as far as the latter goes, Balans has never been about the food. The mothership Balans, at 60 Compton St [see entry], remains the first point of call for many visiting gays. However, this corner establishment might usurp its parental neighbour, particularly with its optimum use of Soho-cruisy window seating on both Old Compton St and Frith St, not to mention pavement tables and chairs. And food quality is on the up. This is a 24-hour affair (including takeaway), from extended-hours breakfasts (fry-ups, eggs benedict and much more) to comfort food (burgers, club sandwiches, pasta, sausages, roast chicken, fish & chips and a token curry). But beverages and breakfasts are your best bet, with a view, of course. And if you can't get a table here, a clone but smaller sibling, Seven Dials Café, is located just a four-minute walk away in Covent Garden, one and a half minutes beyond Cambridge Circus. For the record, Soho Café's now long-gone smaller space was first established as a round-the-clock gay haven in the 1990s by the very popular, pre-Balans Old Compton Cafe.


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