Balfour at Bow

Bars, British, Modern European, Wine Bars·
Bronze Award

SquareMeal Review of Balfour at Bow

Bronze Award

‘I’ve been coming here for over 35 years, so it must be good’, remarked a long-time devotee of this enduring little Francophile restaurant and wine bar next to St Mary-le-Bow – sit at one of the buzzy alfresco tables and you could almost be in Lyon or Bordeaux. Alternatively, head indoors and make a beeline for the plush dining room or the unfussy panelled bar. Either way, the food keeps it straight and true, sending out gravadlax with dill dressing before char-grilled Scottish rib-eye steak with fat triple-cooked chips and Béarnaise sauce, liver and bacon, or roast cod fillet with romano beans and salsa verde. Many dishes are available in two sizes, and there’s a simpler menu of sandwiches, sharing platters, ‘great’ sausages and suchlike at the bar. ‘Superb’ staff know how to charm, and the French-led wine list is refreshingly broad.

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £30 - £49
Bars, British, Modern European, Wine Bars
Alfresco And Views
Outside seating, Terrace


10 Bow Church Yard, City of London, London, EC4M 9DQ

0203 870 5000 0203 870 5000


Opening Times

Mon-Fri 11am-11pm


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6 Reviews 


08 March 2024  
Food & Drink 2.5
Service 0.5
Atmosphere 1.5
Value 1.5
Bar staff need retraining

I have been coming to this bar for many years.  It was always very friendly and welcoming. However we came here recently and under the new management it was a very different place.  To be diplomatic I can only describe the bar staff as difficult. I think the management need to take a good look at their training programme. The venue is the same and to be fair we only came in for drinks but the staff were very rude and l don't think we will be coming back 

Stephanie E

22 December 2022   - Verified Diner
Food & Drink 4
Service 5
Atmosphere 5
Value 5
Good retirement lunch.

Generally very good. Booking easy, incl change the number of people. Good venue. Tables well spaced. Lighting good ( important for us oldies!)

Reasonable wine list and menu.

Mushroom starter excellent as were chips and cheese dessert. Thought steak a bit on tough side, but correctly cooked (medium/rare)

Happy to return 

Heather A

04 December 2016  
Food & Drink 4
Service 4.5
Atmosphere 4
Value 4.5
A City Institution
Bow Wine Vaults is an institution in The City. Situated on Bow Lane, a quaint walk way connecting Cheapside and Queen Victoria Street; BWV serves up hearty food for busy City folk who enjoy a bottle over lunch. Food includes traditional dishes; prawn cocktails and terrine to start, followed by the Veal Milanese with tomato spaghetti or calves liver with bacon. As a regular diner here; I can honestly say, I've never had a bad meal here. There are two levels to the restaurant, downstairs in the main dining room or upstairs in the brasserie. Both have good ambience, however on a Thursday or Friday lunch time, it gets busy and you risk being slightly sat on top of each other if you chose upstairs. A sign of the good food... There is also the option of sandwiches (the swiss cheese, ham and picallili is great), sharing platters and other nibbles such as welsh rarebit at the bar. The wine list has a number of options and they start at a very reasonable level. If you have a networking lunch in the diary and don't want to blow the bank; this is a good option. The staff look after their customers well, and once your face is remembered you can want for nothing!

Andrew B

03 May 2013  
Food & Drink 0.5
Service 2
Atmosphere 3
Value 2
Nice venue. Shame its ruined by the food!
I went for lunch there for second time in a month and that just confirmed in my mind what a poor restaurant this is. The venue itself is great but the service is distinctly average and the food poor. When arriving the waitress omitted to tell us what the chefs special was and that the duck had sold out which of course I only discovered when I tried to order the duck! quite how a restaurant can run out of duck at 12:30 when there were only 3 other tables occupied is beyond me. I ordered the veal escalope with tagliatelle instead with goats cheese and marintaed beetroot to start. The presentation of the starter was interesting. Lumps of obviously packet goats cheese lined up alternating with the beetroot which incidentally was NOT marinated at all. When I ordered it I asked for a sprinkling of hazelnuts which were part of another dish. When it arrived they'd used walnuts which is fine but why didnt they just say they were doing that. The lettuce was nice but the cheese was awful and beetroot tasteless. My main course of veal escalope was dripping in oil. Now I know its fried but that doesn't mean that it has to be oozing with oil. As for the tagliatelle, well my 11 year old could have made a better tomato sauce. I didn't bother with dessert, I could couldn't face the inevitable disappointment. I did have a coffee though, supposedly an espresso. After lunch we went upstairs ot the bar. I tried ordering a coffee but was told “the machines have been turned off”. Oh dear. Its a great venue but the food is very expensive for what it is. Reading other reviewers mentioning they've been coming here for 30+ years tells me 2 things :- 1/ the quality of the menu and cooking are straight from the 1980's 2/ they are obviously relying on their past reputation Both times I've been there the restaurant has been nearly empty which is not a surprise. Great potential but poorly executed. I will NOT be back.

Trenham W

12 November 2012  
Food & Drink 5
Service 5
Atmosphere 5
Value 5
I have been coming here for over 35 years so it must be good! The service and cuisine is great whether one just calls in for a Platter at the Bar or sample the great Susages with an excellent selection of wines, Pinot Grigio always good or if you have time a meal downstairs where the service is always supurb. Liver & Bacon is a must and the Salmon Fish Cakes are another favourite The restaurant upstairs is equally as good and the staff fantastic, try the Dish of the day or if you get stuck the Asparagus is superb and the Steak excellent. The atmosphere is always superb so try it you will not be disappointed! Trenham

Imran K

18 November 2008  
Food & Drink 5
Service 5
Atmosphere 5
Value 5
This is an excellent restaurant/bar and totally independent in its style. You can't class it with anything else as its out there on its own. I can see with my own eyes that there is so much repeat business, which speaks for itself. The service, particularly downstairs, is top quality. You have a choice of styles within the establishment. If you want a quiet intimate three course meal where you can easily hear each other you go downstairs. If you want a casual quick meal or drink you go upstairs. Also if you want a drink and conversation there are tables to sit at as well as the bar to stand at. You can be yourself rather than the organisation making you what they want you to be; you're in control. All staff are very personable. The wines are varied to meet every taste. The food is excellent with plenty of variety. The quality and presentation is always excellent. Its size gives it that ‘close’ atmosphere without being cramped. Again, to re-emphasise: you won't find anything ‘similar’ to this place. Enjoy!
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