Balthazar is my favorite all around restaurant in the City. I have eaten every meal here, breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner. When we are New York for the afternoon, we always stop for wine and a cheese platter or some delights from the raw bar. When we want really good bread, we get it from the Balthazar Bakery.
The look is as close to a Parisan bistro as you will find outside of Paris. The space is a converted wearhouse with high ceilings and columns and gold walls covered with antique mirrors. Small bistro tables and chairs sit on black and white tile floors and waist high partisans with brass railings divide the room into intimate sections. Waiters in long aprons scurry about and even after 10 years, there’s still a buzz here. Odds are pretty good you’ll even see a celebrity or two.
The food is classic French bistro. I’ve eaten here so many times that it would be impossible to remember all the meals so I’ll tell you some of my favorite dishes; any croissant in the morning, an omelette with herbs, Gruyere and home fries, brioche french toast, warm goat cheese and carmelized onion tart, steak frites, toasted French ham and Gruyere cheese on country bread, escargot in garlic butter, grilled chicken paillard, and sauteed skate to name just a few.
The wine list, as might be expected, is all French, but surprisingly very affordable French. There are about 17 wines by the glass, and about 18 1/2 bottles, Lots of full bottles under $40 and very little over $100. This is a fun list and an opportunity to try some good French wines without taking out a mortgage.
ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Not in a traditional sense, but there’s something sexy about wasting an afternoon here.
WHAT OTHERS SAY…
Keith McNally’s “legendary” SoHo brasserie “still delivers the goods” with its “magnifique” French fare (“blissful” breakfast, “oh such wonderful” breads) and atmosphere straight out of “Belle Époque Paris”; it’s “always buzzing” with “locals and tourists alike”, plus a “celebrity or two”, meaning the “tight quarters” can be a “madhouse” – but that’s part of what makes it “a New York classic.” ZAGAT