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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Balans Bar & Grill

     It's Jackie's turn! One of my favorite restaurant-hopping companions is having a birthday and we must celebrate. The dining terrace at Dadeland Mall has four new eateries and we have tried them all except Balans, so this is the obvious choice. To my great Anglophilic delight, turns out this restaurant is originally from my beloved London. Across the pond, it's a popular and trendy chain frequented by yuppie English crowds.
     The restaurant is not expansive, but it's elegant and sleek in décor. Photographic murals of London landmarks adorn each of the two distinct areas of the space, mixed in with some Art Deco-inspired seating and lighting.
     As is customary when I chill with the girls, we started with cocktails. Liz ordered the Happy Sundae, which indeed contained happy juices such as Bailey's and butterscotch Schnapps. The birthday girl ordered her signature Cosmo, and I reluctantly ordered a lychee martini because I have a very hard time finding a bartender that can make it to my satisfaction. Today the odds were in my favor. With just a few specs, Barkeep John succeeded in making me smack my lips with pleasure. In fact, he made it a point to come to the table to make sure that the waiter had conveyed my instructions properly. Good call!
     For lunch, Jackie ordered the spinach and ricotta ravioli, Liz ordered the Indonesian noodles, and I chose the Reuben. Jackie's portion was generous, and the ravioli was covered in a creamy blue cheese sauce that was pungent in a good way for me, not so much for Jackie. I will say, though, that since blue cheese has so much 'personality', the dish didn't require as much sauce as was on the plate. It made it a little overwhelming.
     Liz's noodles were also generous for a lunch portion and the flavor sweet, satisfying and surprisingly not spicy at all, as most Asian dishes tend to be. I think my sandwich was the only notable disappointment.
     A Reuben is quite straightforward, and all the expected pieces of the puzzle were present- the roast beef, the Thousand Island dressing, the sauerkraut and the Swiss cheese, although this last element was almost absent. The menu indicated that the sandwich would be served in a toasted onion roll. I asked if they had any type of whole wheat or grain bread I could have as a substitution. The waitress said yes. My sandwich came hastily put together between two lifeless slices of rye bread. Not even close. The roast beef was plentiful and delicious, I will say that. The side fries were pedestrian at best.
     No birthday meal is complete without a dessert, so Jackie chose the Amaretto cheesecake. This was not a dessert for sharing. It was so silky and flavorful, it was hard to refrain from encroaching on each other's portions. I could've had one of those all to myself! Birthday Girl also ordered a bread pudding that was doused in crème anglaise and rum-soaked raisins. I'm not a bread pudding fan, but I took a taste and found it predictable except for the crème, which had a haunting hint of orange that puts this dessert on the map.
     Some aspects of this restaurant are excellent and worthy of another visit. Others need improvement. We're all a work in progress.

    BB Free ©2014

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