It’s well worth seeking out this Soho speakeasy says Miranda Thompson…
If you’re looking for a modern twist on the classic Soho cocktail bar, Company Below is just the ticket.
Tucked away down a twisting staircase beneath Balls & Company, a meatball specialist where they do complicated ‘balls’ (pork, ricotta, or salmon and dill) with luscious ‘company’ (burrata, spaghetti) , Company Below is the dimly-lit, cool basement bar accompaniment to the buzzing bistro above.
Tendrils of greenery trail across the bar – packed with specialist spirits – the lights are low and the music is pumping (but not rowdily so). And whether you’re looking for a pre-dinner drink or an evening of cocktails, you’ve come to the right place.
The drinks menu, which comprises a wine list and herbal-based cocktails, is concise, intriguing, and well worth working your way through. Perched on high stools at the bar – although there are tables – we watched the bartenders concoct a seasonally appropriate Evergreen with sake, fir tree liqueur, walnut butter, lemon and egg white, and shake up a Smoke Without Fire, with spirit-of-the-moment mescal, chipotle and rhubarb.
You can’t visit Company Below without sampling a couple (or all of) its moreish bar snacks: think parmesan chruros with labneh and thyme honey, gooey squid ink arancini with aioli and chorizo crumb (see recipe below) and thick-cut polenta chips with rosemary salt, ideally accompanied by a spiced rum and rose water Vane’s Decline (pictured).
The main event, however, is the Company Bao – preferably the juicy shortrib sandwiched between crunchy/soft buns with pickles and salted chilli mayo, though vegetarians can opt for a tofu and peanut chilli version. Start with the savoury and finish with the sweet: the brown butter pecan ice cream bao with milk chocolate and praline is absolutely delicious.
For more information please visit ballsandcompany.london
Founder and Head Chef of Balls & Company Bonny Porter has kindly shared the recipe for their delicious squid ink arancini recipe…
Squid Ink Arancini with Aioli & Chorizo Crumb – Extended Recipe
150g parmesan rind
2L water, cold
10g black peppercorn
1 brown onion, sliced
1 Place all ingredients in a pot and bring to the boil.
2 Reduce to simmer for 1 hour.
150g unsalted butter
1 brown onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
400g Arborio rice
400ml white wine
1.1L parmesan stock, heated on stove
90g parmesan cheese, grated
2 sachets squid ink
1 Melt butter in a pan and add onion and sweat on a medium heat until translucent.
2 Add garlic and Arborio rice and stir to coat.
3 Pour in white wine and stir until evaporated.
4 Add 2 cups stock and continue to stir until absorbed.
5 Continue to add stock and stir 1 cup at a time until rice is soft with a slight bite.
6 Turn out into a tray, cover with baking paper and refrigerate until cool.
200g plain flour
500g panko breadcrumbs
1 Roll the risotto into 30g balls
2 In one bowl place the flour, in another the milk and eggs – whisk to combine, and in the last bowl half the panko crumbs.
3 Toss a ball in the flour, transfer to the milk/egg mixture, then roll in the panko crumbs.
1 egg yolk
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
500mL rapeseed oil
1 Place yolk, mustard, lemon juice & garlic in a blender.
2 Slowly drizzle to oil in whicl e blending to emulsify.
3 Season with salt.
1 chorizo, peeled and roughly chopped
2 sprig thyme, picked.
1 Blitz the chorizo and thyme in a blender to a small crumble.
2 Cook on a low heat until cooked through. Cool.
1 Fry the arancini in oil until golden
2 Season with salt.
3 Garnish with a small dollop of aioli with a pinch of chorizo crumb.
By Miranda Thompson