Surely there must be no better words to hear on a cold Friday night after a long, stressful week than comfy chairs, candlelight and, oh yes, unlimited wine!
Having overcome train delays, rush hour traffic and a biting November wind Roxii and I were very grateful to find ourselves at The Exhibit, Balham, a unique venue featuring a trendy restaurant, bar, cosy cinema and informal creative spaces.
This intriguing eatery describes itself as ‘a youth club for adults’ so think drinks, dancing, art, cinema, comedy nights and some really, really good food. We were here to experience their ‘Free Flow’ supper where, from five pm on Friday and Saturday nights, for an extra £15 per person you can enjoy all the smooth, chilled chardonnay you could wish for!
We immediately spotted the amazing decor including a sleek, sexy aquarium running along the back wall downstairs, leather banquette seating and an impossibly cool monochrome floor. By the time we saw the flowered feature wall upstairs we were pretty eager to sample their creative cooking. To kick things off I ordered the cauliflower fritters served with a fresh minted yogurt, while Roxii went for the truffle mac and cheese with a parmesan bread crumb topping which, she said, sounded absolutely delicious.
While we waited for our food amid catching up on over a month’s worth of gossip, we’ve had some big life events recently, we enjoyed the relaxed, light hearted atmosphere as well as having prime spot near the open plan kitchen while we watched the place fill up – always a good sign. The cauliflower fritters were cooked just right, crunchy on the outside and soft inside with a fusion of vegetables and just a hint of spice cooled nicely by a creamy mint dressing. I believe that Roxii’s mac and cheese was just as good as our table went very, very quiet while we ate our starters at the same time as enjoying two large glasses of sweet white wine.
We then both decided to order an Exhibit special for our main having been tempted by the warming sounds of rich meats and gravies. I chose the Pork belly, sweet potato fries and vegetables in a rich dark jus while Roxii picked the Ox cheek and we opted to share a dish of charred broccoli served with chilli and hazelnuts. Well, in my opinion, there’s always been something rather lovely about eating delicious, filling food, snug indoors as you have a good catch up with a friend while it rains. Of course, this occasion was no different and the taste of meaty, well cooked pork combined with sweet, soft potato and rich, fruity gravy was superb – although I gave the chilies on the broccoli a wide berth. Roxii sang the praises of her Ox cheek, which was tender, moist and falling off her fork as well as the smooth, buttery mash which I just had to try for myself however, thanks to pretty generous portions, neither party was able to finish our food.
Finally, feeling stuffed but still in the mood for something small but sweet we rounded it all off with a warm chocolate tart served with a raspberry sorbet and a pineapple posset and coconut shortbread. The chocolate tart was rich, cocoa filled and housed a buttery, crumbly pastry which contrasted nicely with the sharp but sweet tang of the raspberries, Roxii loved her light fruity pineapple dessert and her golden brown shortbread which was baked to perfection. We then had a quick wander around the spacious venue, ideal for both private parties and evenings out as well as popping into the nightclub upstairs before braving the winter chill again.
Overall, The Exhibit is a fantastic place for friday night drinks, weekend brunches and even special celebrations. It possesses an individual charm, has friendly, helpful staff and purse friendly prices right in the heart of South London. If that’s not enough it’s also just five minutes walk from the train station!
12 Balham Station Rd
Written by Kirsty Braik-Scivyer
Kirsty is a freelance journalist who has written for Bauer media and Vidados. Catch her tweeting @eclipse1473.