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Sunday, 21 April 2013

Downstairs at Harrison's, Balham

A few years ago, when a bar and grill launched on this site, I went with a local friend who styles herself, not unreasonably,  'the woman who made Balham fashionable.' An early adopter, she championed SW12 as the next deeply desirable postcode where others treated it as the butt of all property-related jokes. (She's now moved on to the methadone set's favourite holiday resort, St Leonards-sur-Mer, should you want to take a punt on that town's ascent). Back then, Balhamites were agog at the prospect of proper cocktails on their doorstep. "What do you recommend?" I asked our skaterboi waiter. "A taxi into town: our cocktails are rubbish," came his candid assessment. A P45 presumably soon followed and his place of employment closed. Balham wasn't quite ready for pornstar martini; that, or the gaff was found wanting. No such worries at Sam Harrison's new New York Upper West Side-style bar downstairs at his well-established, popular brasserie. Priced from £8, old-fashioneds and ideas such as Affogato Martini - Wyborowa vodka, coffee, butterscotch schnapps and vanilla cream - could hold their against many uptown lounges; and there's wine from under £20, Meantime for beery blokes and a range of bar bites too. Decor (see above), is er, 'nice' but would be nicer still with some quirky visual oomph to break it all up. Sam's ear candy, however, is much to my taste, even if his 20- 30-something Zara clientele would be happier with Beyonce and Jay Z or (God forbid) Taylor Swift than Pusherman soul and Californian yacht rock circa Kenny Loggins. If Sam opened a similar den at the end of my street, I’d fall in from time to time. Whether I'd ride the Northern Line again to revisit, is moot. But thanks to my former local friend's PR, I suspect Sam won't be needing my bucks. Lowly Balham: it's London's Brooklyn Heights these days... or some such flannel.
15 Bedford Hill SW12 8675 6900 www.harrisonsbalham.co.uk