Opened by Keith McNally in the spring of 1997 Balthazar became legendary for its great bread (very French) and authentic brasserie-style cuisine, that it soon attracted celebrities and the local power crowd. The bread success accumulated in opening of the signature Balthazar Bakery next door.
As busy as the brasserie, the bakery is accessible to the mere mortals, who can savour the fresh baguette whenever they want. McNally’s success crossed the Atlantic – ironically the French cuisine coming back to its native continent – as he opened Balthazar at London’s Russell Street in 2013.
The interior of the coveted US location is authentic to a Parisian brasserie. Well, isn’t it actually unauthentic when the French restaurant is set in the midst of Manhattan? It has the French lure though – noisy, crowded and immensely trendy chic. The fashionable stamp arrived due to the celebrity snaps in tabloid magazines – of them entering, leaving or dining at Balthazar.
Reservations even for breakfast and lunch are highly recommended although if you are lucky and do not mind waiting you can get the same food at one of the small tables around the bar, where no reservations are taken. Despite the beehive activity, the food arrives promptly.
Grilled fish & lentil salad
From Le Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée to a juicy Filet de boeuf (steak), all the traditional French dishes are included. The chef added a bit of creativity, when he took some typical French ingredients and modernized them. The delicious and filling Grilled Brook Trout over a warm spinach, walnut and lentil salad was more in the French dynasty. The fish was fresh and delicate with a crisp skin, the lentils added protein-richness and the spinach leaves color and lightness. “C’est parfait avec une verre du vin blanc!“as the french would say. It is indeed ideal with a glass of white wine. A deeper full-bodied Burgundian Chardonnay or Pinot Gris from Alsace would do the job perfectly.
Flipping the planet over, the Seafood Ceviche is the answer to the fashionable Peruvian additions on the New York’s menus, not a brasserie staple. The Raw seafood bar is back to the more traditional brasserie fare and great to start with while sipping from a bottle of champagne.
The mains like the ubiquitous Moules Frites (Steamed Clams), the Steak Frites or the Duck Confit, and perhaps the most desirous BALTHAZAR Burger à Cheval are uber French. The “Horse” Burger is falsely controversial as it’s just a fried egg on top of the beef patty.
Back to the old French school favourites, there are the “Plats du jour“, daily suggestions that change throughout the week available for both lunch and dinner.
The desserts are baked on the premises, not frozen and reheated, and a perfect match to a cup of coffee or tea.
Otherwise just drink wine, wine, and more wine, since the selection is excellent. With reasonably as well as highly priced wines, it is very – French. What I like is that there are plenty of champagnes and wines-by-the-glass to choose from. Just ask the waiter which goes best with your meal. I was satisfied with their choice of a mineral CHABLIS from Desvignes Ainé & Fils 2011. The half-bottles and well-priced wines save splurging for a $200 bottle of Burgundy.
Cuisine: Authentic French Bistro food.
Visit: February 2012
Price: High
Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: Breakfast: 7:30 am–11:30 am, Lunch: 12:00 pm–5:00 pm, Dinner: 6:00 pm–12:00 am (Fri till 1am).
Sat: Breakfast&lunch: 8:00 am – 4:00 pm, Dinner: 6:00 pm – 1:00 am.
Sun: Breakfast&lunch: 8:00 am – 4:00 pm, Dinner: 5:30 pm – 12:00 am
Contact: Tel.: +1 (212) 965-1414
Address: 80 Spring St, New York, NY 10012, USA.