Rediscovering The Bedford, Balham (review)
The Bedford, Balham is back. First built in 1931, this impressive venue has recently undergone a multi-million-pound refurbishment to create an unrivalled pub, club, restaurant, live music and entertainment venue plus 15 stunning boutique bedrooms.
After the major refurbishment, it was a pleasure to visit The Bedford, Balham for a midweek evening dinner. Having attended the recent launch we were wowed by the transformation and the addition of a separate dining area away from the more pub-like areas. The rest of The Bedford also has had a major overhaul. The main bar has been repositioned in the centre of the room, leaving lots of space for guests around the bar. That allows access to the upstairs and the new hotel rooms. There are now five bars in total offering the artisan spirits, craft beers, cocktails, wine and champagnes. We went along to try the new dining experience.
The refurbished bar and dining area are totally decadent – a massive marble bar with a backdrop of mirrors and open brass shelving opens up the space – all lit by elaborate chandeliers with plush velvety furnishings.
The fireplace area is a dominant feature of the room with an open fire, iconic artwork and cosy seating areas are to both sides of the fireplace. The rest of the room is adorned with interesting artwork.
We were shown to a table at the side opposite the bar where we studied the menu, made up of a range of starters, mains including a selection of small plates and desserts. The focus is on using the best ingredients from the British Isles, including free-range chicken and pork, beef aged in-house and sustainably-caught fish.
The menu was a little challenging for our dietary requirements, veggie and gluten-free. At The Bedford, dishes are not marked with a range of dietary/allergens listing and when I asked for a gluten free menu I was presented with the folder of the menu with the full range of allergens to work it out for myself. All the detail was there, but not in a particularly customer-friendly form.
There was a specials board, however, this was in the corner of the bar and we were not alerted to this by our waitress so we missed it. That was a real shame as there were some great dishes on there. What we did choose was excellent so made up for the limited choice.
We started with two small plates. Aubergine, Buratta and pickled relish came with breadcrumbs which I couldn’t eat, though it seemed a rather strange addition to me. I did manage to try the rest of the dish and was impressed by the quality of the ingredients. The burrata was smooth, creamy and full of flavour, the aubergine cooked so it was crisp and not mushy and the relish had just the right sweetness and bite not to overpower the subtle flavours. The Veggie Man was surprised how well the breadcrumbs worked, adding texture and a salty crunch to the dish and complementing the smooth burrata so I stood corrected. Maybe next time there will be a gluten-free breadcrumb option for me to try!
I had a small plate of bean and chorizo stew, delicious and warming on a winter’s evening and just right as a starter.
I followed with a ribeye steak which while not an adventurous choice is always a good pub staple. I wasn’t disappointed, the steak was tender and cooked just to medium. Triple cooked chips were especially good with a side of greens. I wasn’t given a choice of sauce – it’s fortunate I liked the peppercorn that came with the dish.
The Veggie Man opted for a vegan burger. Not just any vegan burger – this was the ‘Moving Mountains® Burger’ described as ‘the ultimate burger for flexitarians’. The main ingredients are a base of antioxidant-rich coconut oil which provides a fatty satisfying consistency, Beetroot juice which allows a juicy ‘bleed’ at the centre of the patty while plant proteins and mushrooms provide a succulent texture akin to the bite of meat. Not only did this look like the real thing, but it tasted great too! Served on a brioche bun with cheese, tomato, onion and pickle with a generous portion of crispy fries it was the perfect mid-week supper.
Unusually, there was much to tempt the Veggie Man on the dessert menu, including fried Nutella gnocchi with banana ice cream, apple and cranberry crumble with custard and a selection of British cheeses from local cheese shop Hamish Johnston. In the end, he opted for sticky toffee pudding, served with toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream. A classic dark toffee pudding, drenched in thick toffee sauce and complemented by the vanilla ice cream this was a real winner!
I was pleased to see a gluten-free brownie on the menu. Again rather a staple dish but served just so, with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. The brownie was moist and chewy exactly as it should be.
What’s special about The Bedford, Balham is that after enjoying an excellent dinner you can also take in a gig in The Bedford’s iconic Club Room. You may just spot a star of the future. The stage at The Bedford has played host to the likes of Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, Jamie Lawson, James Morrison, Jorja Smith and George Ezra. They even have their own alumni playlist on Spotify! Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night, from 8-10pm, The Bedford showcases live performers, and amazingly it’s absolutely free and delivered to an appreciative audience in an intimate and magical venue.
It’s our local and we have seen so many talented performers at free gig nights. One highlight and special moment (there have been many!) was first seeing Jamie Lawson perform when he was unknown and he performed I wasn’t expecting that. It became ‘our‘ song long before it was heard on the radio!
The dance hall upstairs has been refurbished, with a new bar and dining area attached. Used for big functions, it also serves the residents at the new hotel rooms which we didn’t see but sound fabulous with Hypnos beds, Egyptian cotton linen, roll top baths, rain showers and bespoke artwork.So while The Bedford remains a central haunt in Balham for pub goers, live music, dancing it now also boasts a good restaurant and somewhere to stay. Ideally positioned a short walk from Balham rail and underground station it’s a short hop into central London.
We were pleased to be guests of The Bedford,Balham. As our local, we visit regularly and now we will definitely think of it as somewhere else to eat rather than just going for a drink or a gig.
77 Bedford Hill, Balham, SW12 9HD
T: 020 3976 8007
Looking for other pubs in London with good dining options? How about The Dove in Hammersmith, a tiny riverside classic pub with great views. Or The Gun in Docklands – great food and views of the Thames make this another excellent place to dine. Or The Duke of Sussex right by Waterloo Station, a friendly pub with great food from their charcoal grill and an extensive beer and wine list. You’ll find all of these and more in our Restaurants section