After a long day of running around London, I deferred to the locals for dinner restaurant recommendations. Phil’s friends gave us a short list of their favorite places in the Soho area. I was most intrigued by the sound of a unique restaurant that served every course from appetizers to dessert in the form of small balls: Balls & Company. Not your typical English fare, but London is notorious for being on the cutting edge of food trends and when travelling, I am always up for food experiences you can’t get anywhere else, whatever that might mean. To my surprise, it turned out to be a very small semi-upscale place complete with candles and mood lighting and it was packed when we got there – a good sign.
To start, we went for the leek & goat cheese arancini – absolutely delectable. Lightly fried for a crisp shell, perfect with the dollop of creamy goat cheese on top.
For the main course, our first pick was the pork balls, made with ricotta, parmesan, milk bread, pine nuts & sage. With such a unique flavor combination, we asked the waitress’ recommendation for a sauce to top it. Without hesitation, she recommended the Romesco sauce (red pepper, tomato, almond, hazelnuts & garlic). We trusted her, but it turned out to be a LOT of different flavors happening at the same time… and not in complete synchronicity 😛 Still very yummy in a complex and earthy way.
Our second (and best) decision was the braised shortrib & sofrito balls with a classic tomato sauce. The meat was so tender it barely stayed in a ball formation and the flavor was exquisite.
For our side dish, we strayed from the sphere with polenta chips. I’ll admit, I forgot “chips” is British for “fries” so I was not expecting the thick wedges that came out. The texture was very different – a thick, crunchy exterior with minuscule craters and that classic polenta grittiness on the inside. The aioli was an excellent balance in flavor, texture, and temperature, however, these chips were real heavy on the oil and salt so I couldn’t handle too many. By the way, polenta fries are a hot new restaurant trend – keep your eye out for them!
When the waitress delivered our check, she also delivered a small brown gift tag and invited us to write our wish for 2017 on it, motioning to the window where the rest of their customers’ were strung. After a moment of thought, we both agreed on one 😉