Balham will always hold a special place in my heart. I may have only lived there for just shy of a year, but it is a place I truly feel I belong. It has a calm village feel, whilst still being only 30 minutes from central London (including that irritating time it takes to switch branches on the Northern Line at Kennington) It’s full of yummy mummies in yoga pants, young professionals who commute into the city for work but prefer a quieter weekend, and basic bitches (like myself) who just LOVE brunch, for the place is brimming over with amazing spots for this egg fuelled weekend tradition.
The Exhibit is a bit of a Balham institution. When my gals first moved to Balham almost three years ago (at which point the four of us lovingly became known as The Balham Babes #SorryNotSorry) we had a few nights out and each of them ended at The Exhibit and resulted in a rather painful hangover fuelled by bad decisions and gin. But The Exhibit is about so much more than an end of the night dance destination. It is an exhibition space (obviously), a cinema, a workshop space (the monthly life drawing classes are brilliant) and a restaurant.
I reviewed their great dinner menu for Tastecard at the beginning of the year, and actually still think about the Roast Pollock & Prawn dish I had that night. It was sublime, with amazing bold flavours and an enjoyable collection of textures. So when The Exhibit team DM’d me and invited me along to check our their brunch menu I leapt at the chance.
Now, I have a confession to make. I have NEVER taken advantage of a Bottomless Boozy Brunch in London (or anywhere, for that matter). I’ve had my fair share of brunches, don’t get me wrong, but i’ve never paired it with unlimited Mimosas, Prosecco or Bloody Mary’s as so often is the fashion these days. The Exhibit is another of these inspirational venues that offer up the option of ever-flowing bubbles with their brunches, at the extremely reasonable cost of just £20 per head for your 1.5 hour sitting (alongside the cost of your meal) and the plan was to finally give this concept a go on my visit.
…Unfortunately my work Christmas Do coincided with the weekend of my visit, and after drinking ALL of the drinks on Friday night, the idea of alcohol passing my lips by the Sunday filled me with dread and anxiety, so it was not to be. Not a problem though, as it gave myself and my oldest pal Janey (1/4 of The Balham Babes) opportunity to enjoy their silky smooth cappuccinos and dairy intolerant friendly Soy Lattes a go instead. And besides, the other tables (of mostly women in sequin-clad Christmas jumpers) were having enough boozy fun for all of us, as the bottles of Prosecco made numerous trips to the tables to replenish the glasses.
Janey and I scoured the menu and both opted for the Sweetcorn Fritters (major plot-twist for J who ALWAYS orders eggs benny), with her adding a side of smoked salmon and myself adding on a side of chorizo.
The fritters were beautiful – crisp and sweet and delicious, all brought together with the golden, oozing yolk which spilled out of the perfectly poached eggs perched on top. The tomatoes and diced red onion provided a freshness and extra crunch; it all tasted a bit Mediterranean which was quite nice considering it’s December. My side of chorizo was the carnivorous addition I was after; juicy and colourful with a hint of spice. I can imagine an accompaniment of bubbles would have been wonderful, but instead we chose to opt for a bit of pudding for afters (because it’s Christmas!) which we shared (because sharing is caring).
Unfortunately we had already made a considerable dent in our delicious, cakey chocolate brownie before I remembered to take a photo… so imagine, if you will, a beautiful square of brownie drizzled with a rich dark chocolate sauce, a quenelle of thick cream and a few juicy strawberries. Got that image in your head? Good. It was delicious.
We sat, ate and gossiped for a few hours together, enjoying the relaxed atmosphere of the upstairs dining room. The sun streamed in through the windows as more excited tables arrived to begin their own boozy brunch adventures. While brunch is something I like to enjoy weekly, making it a bit boozy is perhaps something to be saved for special occasions and The Exhibit is a great place to celebrate something worthy of pre-midday boozing. You could even take advantage of their bottomless vino offer available on Friday and Saturday evenings for £15 per head if brunch (for whatever bizarre reason) is not your thing. You could even make a proper evening of it and throw in a movie in their cinema, a bit of yoga in their workshop room or a just dance the night away in the ground floor bar. The Exhibit is about so much more than just food, but even if it weren’t, it’s still an awesome spot to head to in this Zone 3 village.