The Balcony: high heels and high prices

Were I the sort of chap happy to spend £1,000 on a vulgar handbag or £800 on a pair of high heels in the mistaken belief that they would turn my stocky legs into something resembling those of a gazelle then the price I paid for a unexceptional meal mightn’t seem outrageous.

But I’m a modest man with modest tastes and the perhaps naive and unrealistic expectation that I shouldn’t have to pay over £20 for a very simple main course and a glass of very ordinary wine.
I’m not, however, the demographic at which Selfridges is aiming.
Nor the target for The Balcony – the 21st century manifestation of those department stores canteens to which my mum would drag me as a child.
But let’s not be wholly negative. The food was fine.
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The decor

Walk past the posh shoes and handbags on the top-floor of Selfridges and you will reach The Balcony.
It’s a light and airy space which seems to be aimed firmly at ladies who lunch and thoughtfully affords them the privilege of gazing down on those scurrying through the Bull Ring below to shop at less expensive stores.
They can even take along their children, for there is a sub-section of the menu aimed at ‘mini-fashionistas’. Bless….

The food and drink

Salads, snacks, sharing plates, substantial main courses, sweet stuff and afternoon tea – yep, all those boxes ticked.
There are skinny cocktails, ordinary cocktails, non-alcoholic cocktails, plenty of fizz, a few beers, a sensible selection of still wines.
At the end of a brief but expensive shopping trip to buy a birthday present, my wife and I decided to skip starters and order only a main course each.
The ‘sustainable fish ‘n’ chips’ that I ate cost £14.50, rather more expensive than that I might eat with equal enthusiasm at Dads Lane chippy down the road from my house.
But it was pleasant – thin, crisp chips that might once have seen the inside of a freezer bag, flakey sweet fish (coley, I thought) in a crunchy batter and a chunky tartare sauce that I thought lacked a little oomph.
Mushy peas came minted, which I think jars terribly with fish. There was a pot of mayo and another of tomato ketchup.
It came on a plate too small to accommodate all these components easily.
Meanwhile, my wife’s salad was served in a long thin thing that looked a little like a clay water pipe that had been sawn in half lengthways.
But, rather than malodorous H2O, it contained chickpea, puy lentil and butternut squash falafel with a bulghar wheat salad.
It was a dish that Lynn enjoyed without fainting with giddy pleasure. But, then, what does £11 buy a girl at Selfridges these days?
With our meals we each sipped a glass of pretty ordinary wine – she a crisp white, I a somewhat jammy Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.
Service, by the way, was friendly and so efficient that we were out within an hour, having chalked up a bill of over £40.

Need to know

Expect to spend how much as you care to splash out.
There are cheaper options.
Vegetarian dishes are available.
Accessible for the disabled.

The Balcony
Selfridges on 4, The Bullring, Birmingham B5 4BP. 0121 600 6869.