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The Exhibit (Bar, Restaurant)

Picture of The Exhibit in Balham, London

12 Balham Station Road, Balham, London, SW12 9SG
Cuisine: American Average Price: £20.00 inc drink
Tel: 020 8772 6556 | Email to The Exhibit | Transport: Balham | Write review

The Exhibit Review

Book a table at The Exhibit

Best for: Food and drink offers the whole week long.

Great: onion ring stacks, atmosphere and fish tank.

The song that best sums up The Exhibit in Balham is the catchy TV advertisement jingle for Toys ‘r’ Us.

‘There’s a magical place, we’re on our way there
With toys in their millions all under one roof
It’s called Toys ‘R’ Us!’

A bar, a diner, a cinema and a giant fish tank, The Exhibit in south London has three floors of fun for adults, all under one roof, and offers the same “Muuuuuum, I want more” mentality first experienced in those earlier years when the one rationed toy just wasn’t enough.

The Exhibit’s decked and gravelled alfresco beer garden, which has just the right amount of oh-so-charming paint peeling from the walls, is the outdoor (adult) play area for sunny afternoons or warm summer nights.

Of course, if you’re playing outside in the garden, you might miss the cool diner vibe upstairs on the first floor, where friendly staff top up coffee countless times as part of the weekend brunch deals, and where the vintage jukebox transports you back to beyond your childhood, to the 1950s (only in its appearance, though; less so with its playlist).

There is much fun to be had when demolishing the towering onion rings, stacked on a pole like an edible hoopla. Burger fare and huge platters of nachos, fajitas and chicken wings are generous enough for sharing, like big boys and girls should do, although most south London brats will demand their own portion. The same goes for the Exhibit sundae, a mountain of brownie, ice cream and toffee sauce; sharing is the sensible option but who wants to be sensible in when faced with a delicious dessert challenge such as this? Feel free to stamp your feet, bang the table and petulantly tell everyone within earshot, ‘It’s all mine!’ (as I did).

‘Soon after bedtime
When dark nightime falls
Exhibit staff stock up on the shelves
From ceiling to floor’

Hearty as The Exhibit diner food is, the lure of the leather sofa cinema on the 3rd floor is just too tempting to miss. The diner’s atmosphere also wanes as the evening progresses and impatient child syndrome demands to be where the action is (‘Muuuum I want what they’ve got’).

‘Food, cocktails and films
Fishtank, milkshakes and games
Dates, dancing and chats’

Packed dance floors at the weekend, punters making the most of 2-4-1 cocktails throughout Sunday night, plus a more chilled out area with bold floral wallpaper, all combine to provide every kind of bar experience a proper grown up could want.

The Exhibit’s bar staff, much like the diner’s, are as friendly as Toys’r’Us very own Geoffrey Giraffe and relish mixing up cocktails from The Exhibit’s extensive drinks menu. Cult faves include the Long Bomb Iced tea, made with Jaeger and Red Bull; although this cocktail was too sweet for this critic.

I much preferred the Southwest Side - Bombay gin, mint and elderflower combined with apple and lemon juice - and Breakfast in Bombay - Bombay gin infused with tea and muddled together with Marmalade. My selfish inner child said ‘Exhiiiiibitt, can I have more gin cocktails on the menu pllleeeaaassee?’

A separate private bar hosts speed dating nights every Thursday so the boys and girls of south London can play nicely together, while the top floor, also available for hire, is used for monthly bar pong nights. I’m not sure how it works exactly but it involves aiming ping-pong balls into red beakers and drinking beer if successful, or unsuccessful, or both. Competitors look pretty serious, but perhaps they’re just trying to work out how the hell they can fit in a burger, a film and a speed date too. So much to do…

‘There's Millions says Jonathan
All under one roof
‘It's Called ex-hi-bit! ex-hi-bit! ex-hi-bit! ex-hi-bit!’ more

Nathalie Bonney

Customer Reviews for The Exhibit

Average (based on 9 votes): 9 Atmosphere: Value: Quality:

The following customer reviews are not endorsed by Fluid London and are simply those of users who wish to publish their independent experiences of The Exhibit.

“I reserved a room at the exhibit for a private party not too long ago as Balham was quite an accessible place for people to get to. I managed to get a room on the top floor, which had a huge balcony and very well stocked bar. Ended up having a great turn out and lots of people commented on how good the venue was. The staff were really helpful in the whole process, playing great guests behind the bar and helping me in organising the event. We spotted that The Exhibit even had its own cinema which we had try to out. Lots of comfy sofas and a great screen where you could enjoy drinks aplenty from the bar. A definite 10/10 venue!”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Nick, Balham (2 years 2 months 9 days ago)

“I love this venue. It's got everything - a bar with wifi, aquarium and Wii; a fancy restaurant that has a cracking special offer deal every night of the week; a swanky cocktail bar with views of the Sainsbury's car park; and, my favourite bit, a cinema that allows you to take your drinks AND your dessert in with you.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Leigh, Tooting (5 years 7 months 3 days ago)

“I saw the (rather amusing) review on this site by Christian Rose-Day, and thought it was worth adding a review as a local and frequent customer in the Exhibit. I've been in Balham for 7 or 8 years now and this is now my favourite place in SW London. Main attraction is the bar - great atmosphere, and there's a happy hour until 11pm Thursday and Fridays (including cocktails - bargain). The music is spot on, which in turn attracts a great crowd of no-niggle SW Londoners all having fun (single mates have a pretty good track record here...!). A few years back when it was dance/house music here it was a bit of a chavvy crowd, but they've all moved on now, thankfully, and it's mainly local young professionals... and their mates realising South West London beats being north of the river! My new discovery about this place has been the restaurant - the 393 menu is just top value... you're getting really good food at the price it would cost you to go to pizza express or a curry house. It's become a weekly staple for my girlfriend and I, and the restaurant is always busy - pretty obvious endorsement to me. A good bit of credit-crunch busting. I haven't been to the cinema yet, but at £3 for some cool films, looks pretty good. Bit of a raving endorsement really... this place has come on leaps and bounds. Try it on a Friday or Saturday night and you'll see why people keep going back. Well done, guys.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
darwin, London (5 years 9 months 4 days ago)

Show all user reviews for The Exhibit

“My girlfriend and I went to the Balham Exhibit for drinks and dinner last night. The service was excellent and the decor is just as cool as it always has been - although now starting to look a little 'used'. But our main problem was the food. I ordered a house burger which was cold and tasted just like a Burger King Whopper (maybe it was..?) with no special relish just an overload of onions. My girlfriend had the pesto chicken. It was sold as breast but also turned up partly on the bone and the pesto/tomato sauce had a slight meaty/fishy/taste... To top it off the other reason of the evening was to watch a film in the cinema on level three afterwards. Although the price seemed very reasonable at £3 each it was delayed by half an hour. Thankfully the manager understood that we weren't happy and gave us vouchers to return another night but was a shame as the staff there are excellent but food and service are going downhill raplidly...”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
jason hart, london (6 years 11 months 24 days ago)

“Maybe I went to a different restaurant to everyone else who has reviewed Exhibit but I am certain it’s the same place! A group of 15 booked a table for 8.15pm on Saturday. On arriving, the table was not ready. Half an hour later, we were invited back to the restaurant. The décor and atmosphere were good and first impressions that the menu was appealing. We started by ordering wine. The waitress took our wine order but 5 minutes later we were told that the Pinot Noir was out of stock – this would become a theme for the evening. Almost 20 minutes later our food order was finally taken. We were only then informed after ordering that the oysters & sirloin steak were also out of stock. Finally, after having to suddenly rush our decision, we settled back to enjoy the food. After another 20 minutes or so the starters began to appear. The garlic prawn special at over £7 consisted of four minute prawns surrounded by wilted lettuce. These were promptly sent back & a free bottle of wine was offered. The replacement prawn cocktail was the worst I have ever had. The squid starter was rubbery and the yellow fin tuna starter was hardly visible to the naked eye– none of this was cheap. The main courses were poor. The surf and turf was served with yet more prawns and not lobster. The steak was chewy. The green beans were under cooked and stringy (and extra). The meal came to £50 a head – west end prices for sub standard food & service. I would never consider eating in this restaurant again.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Tony Fitz, London (7 years 10 months 25 days ago)

“Goodness me - don't believe the hype! I have lived in Balham for 5 years and, whilst the food at The Exhibit is consisently good, the service is amateurish; on my last visit on 17 May, the food was gorgeous but we sat for 20 minutes before we were even offered a drink. Inter course service, so to speak, was not much better and certainly there is no comaparison to the slick, attentive and professional service at Balham Bar and Kitchen. Generally, a good restaurant but could do a lot better! ”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
rachel morrish, Balham (9 years 3 months 3 days ago)

“The Exhibit is a breath of fresh air for Balham and so much better than the grandad pubs or dodgy knock off corporate bars. I fully recommend it for a full on sesh or just a few lazies after work.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
steve, london (9 years 3 months 24 days ago)

“Have just moved into the area and had a great dinner last Thursday at the Exhibit with friends. The place was buzzing and the food fantastic. I had the Red Mullet which was incredible. The last time I had had Red Mullet was in Barbados and it was caught about an hour beforehand. Last Thursday nights was better. My friend had the 8oz Steak which he said was excellent! Everything seemed very fresh and came out from the kitchen in good time. The staff were also very friendly and helpful. After dinner we moved into the cocktail lounge and had some very good cocktails at the bar. We ended up staying until the place closed. Really great restaurant! I have been to BKB across the street as well and there is no comparison, The Exhibit wins hands down. Plus, BKB is about twice the price and the staff not as helpful or as friendly! Thanks Exhibit, I'll be back soon.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Jonty, London (9 years 4 months 10 days ago)

“The official review on this site states cash only when The Exhibit in fact accepts cards, and "no food" having already mentioned the restaurant upstairs...get it right! Some contact details for the bar would be helpful too.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Charlotte, [ Unknown ] (12 years 9 months 14 days ago)

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The Exhibit Opening Hours

Monday: 5:00pm - 11:00pm Friday: 11:00am - 2:00am
Tuesday: 5:00pm - 11:00pm Saturday: 11:00am - 2:00am
Wednesday: 5:00pm - 11:00pm Sunday: 11:00am - 11:00pm
Thursday: 5:00pm - 12:00am    

Additional Information

The Exhibit Food & Drinks

  • Cuisine Type: American
  • Average Price: £20.00 inc drink

The Exhibit Food Menu

The Exhibit Diner offers American food in a relaxed diner setting. Come for Burgers, Dogs, Ribs and Shakes, and American style Brunch till 4pm on the weekends!

Please contact the restaurant direct on 0871-223-3780 to make a booking over 10

Updated 06/09/2011

Item Description Price
Pan Roasted Fillet of Plaice served with creamed leeks, potato pancakes and beurre blanc £ 9.00
Slow Cooked Shoulder of Lamb Served with pearl barley broth and Cavolo Nero £ 9.00

The Exhibit Drinks Menu

Full wine menu, good selction of draft, bottle beer and cocktails. Happy Hour- Every day from 5-8pm 241 on Bottles of Wine, Bottles of San Miguel and selected Cocktails

Updated 06/10/2010

Item Description Price
Flaming Passion House Tequila shaken with passion fruit syrup, fresh passion fruit and lime, served over crushed ice. Garnished with a flaming passion. £ 8.00
Gingerbread Julep Makers Mark Bourbon, Mint & Gingerbread syrup all served over crushed ice, garnished with a ginger biscuit £ 7.50

Special offers, discounts and deals at The Exhibit

Dinner and a Movie- <br /> <br /> Eat in the restaurant before going to see a film on a Tueday/Wednesday and your ticket is only £3!!

Updated 20/11/2009

Events and other great things going on at The Exhibit

The Exhibit has lots of events on throughout the year, from our weekly Cinema showings to our special theme nights! Whatever you come down for, you are sure to have a great night!

Updated 13/01/2010

The Exhibit Hire Details

Level 3 Bar & Balcony - 65 Capacity, private bar, balcony, dance floor.

Crush Bar - 45 capacity, itimate room, private bar.

Updated 05/03/2009

Name: Cinema
Type: Private Room
Days: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday
Cost - Hire Fee: £ 70 / Min Bar Spend: £ 0
Options: Food Available, Seating Available,
DJ: None
Capacity: 24
Notes: Private Hire of the cinema is available at all times except Tuesdays & Wednesdays from 7pm. Perfect for children’s parties, film clubs, birthdays, sporting events, private screenings etc, £70 per hour
Name: Level 3
Type: Private Room
Days: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday
Cost - Hire Fee: £ 75 / Min Bar Spend: £ 800
Options: Food Available, Seating Available,
DJ: Provide your own
Capacity: 65
Notes: The Level 3 Bar & Balcony is the perfect venue for a private event. Available for private hire Tuesday to Saturday and every day time, it has a 65 person capacity, plus a large balcony.
Name: The Crush
Type: Private Room
Days: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday
Cost - Hire Fee: £ 75 / Min Bar Spend: £ 500
Options: Food Available, Seating Available,
DJ: None
Capacity: 45
Notes: The Crush Bar is a sophisticated cocktail lounge bar and is available to privately hire at any time. The capacity is for 45 people and you will have your own bar, completely private.

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Venue ID: 1807

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"This site advertises free for ladies before 11pm it is not free we paid £10 each and that was because I asked why it wasn't free and she said are you on the guest list I told her I had emailed but heard..." Which venue is this?


"This site advertises free for ladies before 11pm it is not free we paid £10 each and that was because I asked why it wasn't free and she said are you on the guest list I told her I had emailed but heard..." Which venue is this?

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