THE BALCON WILL BE CLOSED FOR REFURBISHMENT FROM 18 FEBRUARY - 12 MAY 2019.
Sitting neatly at the cross-section between tourist-land and serene St James’s, The Balcon is a place for daytime deal-making and night-time romance. Matt Greenwood (ex-Blixen, Caravan) now heads the kitchen, steering things deftly away from ‘hotel restaurant’ (the Sofitel is attached) to dining destination – whether for breakfast, weekend brunch, lunch or dinner. He has also trendied up the menu, adding touches of sumac here, a sprinkle of yuzu there. Pan-fried snails with chorizo and sweet-potato purée is the best starter. For mains, both the lamb with pearl barley and cavalo nero, and the crispy sea bream with laverbread beurre blanc and samphire are triumphs of classical cooking: pair them with glasses of Wairau River Pinot Noir and Languedoc Picpoul de Pinet, respectively. The food is respectable, if not entirely memorable, yet unfortunately the atmosphere doesn’t quite match the quality of the cooking. Nevertheless, Greenwood has made a promising start.