I can’t bear shopping. I hate the queues, the people, the prices. Even the politest pressure applied from a too-friendly shop assistant is enough to send me “just browsing” elsewhere. Or more likely to the sanctuary of a bar or restaurant. So I’m always pleased when in the midst of Christmas shopping frenzy in a department store I see the sign “Bar”. Some of them may as well be titled “man-crèche”, where weary gentleman seek refuge with the football and a beer whilst their other halves max out their credit cards. I recognise that’s sexist as I know plenty of ladies who’d rather join me for a vino than fight through an escalator to beat someone, sometimes literally, to the last box of Christmas crackers in the shop.
Selfridges has a couple of possibilities for a mid-shop beer stop, but most of them are on the noisy ground floor with millions of shoppers prepared to queue for sushi and burgers. On the top floor though, where the ladies super-brands are purveyed to the beautiful and the wealthy, there’s always been an oasis. Although it’s been there since the opening of the store, last month it was refurbished and reopened as “The Balcony” by catering company Searcys. The space was desperately in need of a refurb, and the look they’ve achieved is high-end restaurant. It’s comfy and relaxing, somewhere to sit and recuperate with a coffee, or to gossip with friends over a glass of champers.
Opening at the same time as the store, you can start your shopping day here with a hearty breakfast. We tried the Eggs Benedict and Eggs Norwegian (both £9), with tea. The eggs were well cooked, and the hollandaise silky smooth. It was nice, although if I was being really picky I think the plates were too big. We did not however like the tea which was supposedly an English breakfast blend, but tasted suspiciously astringent like Darjeeling. Teapots were stylish and practical. You can also get a bacon sandwich (£4), or if you want something heavier then how about Southern fried chicken on waffles with poached egg and maple syrup (£12), I bet you can taste the calories in that one.
Onwards from breakfast, nip back for lunch. We enjoyed the sliders (mini burgers), trying all three styles – beef, squid & chorizo, and Falafel (£7). We also tried the “Searcys club sandwich ‘martini’” (£9) – a descontructed club sandwich served in a Margarita glass (the pedant in me must point out that mistake). It was a striking dish, enjoyable, despite it being quite tricky to eat. The fish fingers ‘n’ chips (£5) was excellent. The latter was served in a metal bucket on a wooden chopping board. I absolutely want my restaurant food to look good but impractical dinnerware is one of my pet peeves as regular readers will know. Well done to them on taking the time to net the lemon though so I didn’t get pips in my food. Other larger plates on offer include a monkfish green curry (£12), salmon fishcakes (£10), and rib eye steak (£26.50).
Of course all of this needs to be washed down with something and there is plenty to choose from. You can have a glass of champers for £12, or a bellini or other classic cocktails for £9. We can highly recommend the “Polish Flower” cocktail. Peroni by the bottle is £4, with the wine starting at a reasonable £20. It’s worth noting at this point that we’ve been several times, we didn’t manage to eat and drink around this whole menu in just a single day!
This venue won’t rock your world, but I think this is considerably nicer than the other options in the vicinity, although probably a few pounds more per person. Perfect for a business lunch, a retreat from the hordes, or a catch up with friends.