I know, to all you North Londoners and Central limpets out there, south of the river might seem a bit of a trek down the Northern Line when you’re used to the luxury of the better connected side of the river. But why not venture out into new lands and discover new treasures? And who knows, Happn could always find you a spouse on the tube ride over.

The Venue

When I found this little place, tucked onto a tiny unsigned street by Sainsbury’s car park, (after the compulsory lost wanderings of any night out), The Exhibit seemed a little on the glorified-parking-spot side. I cautiously tiptoed in, regretting that I’d hyped my mum up about a grand bar with its own cinema and everything. But there was no need to worry. This place has the coolest of cool interiors. With one of those inclusive central bars that can be spied from every angle, wood-paneled walls, delicate mosaic designs and even a fish tank, this place encapsulates modern swank with a little bit of quirky thrown in. Faith was returning, and I felt my claws relax back into hands when the waiter took us straight upstairs and let us choose our seats (‘that booth seat over there, no this one! What about by the window?’ pointing at a table already in use… My mum was a little overexcited). Spying the cute balcony seating, I was already planning my summer return.

The Exhibit Balham Bar Review

This decor puts on a show, with its shiny tiling, open fires and... fish tanks. 

The Atmosphere

It’s hidden status and the suave booth seats bring certain words to mind: indulgent, luxurious and cosy. I relaxed into a comfortable seat in the candlelight to the gentle backdrop of conversational humming, and the friendly tones of our Australian waitress.

But it was the cinema that took ‘chilled vibes’ to the next level. We settled into leather sofas, hugging cushions, even took our shoes off and made ourselves at home, helping ourselves to the free bags of popcorn splayed around as a man snored in the row in front (someone was a little too relaxed…) I was disappointed when the lights came up and it dawned on me – I couldn’t pop upstairs to bed, I had to get a train home (the horror).

The Exhibit Balham Bar Review

Quaint catch-ups, intimate footsie games and giggling gaggles to be found in this cosy venue.

Food and Drinks

I gotta say, this menu intimidated me a little at first. The lamb wasn’t a chop, a cutlet or even a shoulder – it was a neck, and even the fish and chips were in fact ‘East India Porter battered fish in hot pepper sauce’. It’s not too cheap either, starting at £6 for a starter. But when my grilled Royal Bream, with radish, chilli and fennel salad and sweet paprika aioli arrived, all doubts disintegrated into the softest of fleshy fish, the creamiest mash and the delicately flavoured heaven of a top quality palate pleaser. And my mum’s chips? Darn tasty.

Our cocktails were pretty damn fine too. I had a sweet concoction of apple, elderflower and gin, topped off with a delicious silky froth. Tangy and sweet and perfect for washing down some fine food - these guys know how to handle their liquids.

The Exhibit Balham Bar Review

Muscle in to these mouth-watering dishes for your hit of edible paradise.


All in all, I was very glad to have (eventually) found The Exhibit. A haven hidden away, a home away from home, I felt like I could do all of the lazy luxury life things under one roof.