Have you ever been to Hay's Galleria? I bet you thought it would be swarming with tourists, chock full of big brand coffee shops; holding little attraction for you, the discerning London drinker. Rather, Balls Brothers Hays Galleria lets you take a breather from the exclusivity and pretense that is rife in the city - so you can just enjoy your drink in the beauty of the Thames-side setting.
The restaurant borders the central atrium of Hay's Galleria, and while our reserved table downstairs looked warm and cosy, tucked away into a low-lit cranny of the exposed stone basement, the open air of the forecourt was too bright and airy to resist. The little plot of Hay's Galleria assigned to Balls Brothers is served by a cubby hole bar that opens straight out onto the pavement, as well as looking directly onto the great iron fountain at its centre and the petanque court next door.
With the intermittent patter of falling water, the shade of wide olive-green parasols and frolicking children in the sand, you begin to see why this Balls Brothers might be so popular with eager tourists: it is just so unashamedly nice compared to the rest of sulky, grey London.
The Atmosphere & Clientele:
Next door to our table was a large and homogeneous party of city workers, intermittently emitting great belly chuckles and shuffling round to accommodate new members or trays of food. In my view, it is these City types, not the beaney hatted youths in the East, that are at the forefront of the London nightlife scene. They have so little leisure time in between being let loose from their desk leashes and getting reeled back home by impatient other halves that they take their choice of post-work drinks pretty seriously. Balls Brothers is the clearly the logical choice if you're wanting a no-nonsense night out.
The Food & Drink:
Here I might have said something pompous about the hints of sugared orange in my cocktail bringing out the sweetness of the steak's succulent pink juices, or maybe how the subtle effervescence of the Prosecco juxtaposed the smoothness of the garlic butter. While all of these points are true, in reality there wasn't much time to scribble down any notes about subtle tastes and texture combinations, because it all got sucked down my mouth hole pretty quick. Poor form for a food and drink reviewer I know, but let's just say that everything that comes out of the Balls Brothers kitchen tastes good. Especially the chocolate brownie.
So there you have it; an unapologetically frank review of the restaurant in the location that you are too much of a London local to have visited yet. So here is your chance to swan down the Thames, admire the beauty of the arching bridges at dusk, and share a bottle of wine under the romantic iron lattice work of Balls Brothers Hays Galleria. You might even dabble in a gentlemanly game of Petanque afterwards.