Brunch at Balthazar is both an impossibility and a must for anyone who wishes to experience New York at its best.
It’s crowded. It’s noisy. It tries your patience. The wait for a table is often longer than it’ll take you to order and eat, which seems rather upside down.
Service can be slapdash. And the food – some of it’s good, some of it’s great. My chicken paillard was good, saved by sheets of shaved Parmesan; a buttery cloud of scrambled eggs in a puff pastry hat was great. My friend’s grilled brook trout was good; the caramelized banana tart was great (I’ve read the recipe in the Balthazar Cookbook a million times, yet have never made it). And so was the bread, which deserves and enjoys its own outlet next door at Balthazar Boulangerie, where the line can be just as long.
But you really wouldn’t want it any other way. In Balthazar, wizard restaurateur Keith McNally has created the quintessential Parisian brasserie. Though it opened in 1997, the restaurant has managed to paint itself into New York’s SoHo neighborhood as if it was there before anything else.
I never wrote about my brunch at Balthazar in March of 2009.
That meal was recently recalled to me by one of the friends with whom I ate there, the man with the smelly jar. Memories of that meal sent me digging through my files to retrieve this twenty-ninth photo of the week.
I give you Balthazar, a slice of New York.
4 replies on “photo of the week 29: quintessential brasserie…”
I like it here too ;)
Balthazar truly is the quintessential Parisian brasserie. Have you cooked anything out of the cookbook? BTW what is that beautiful green mousse looking item in the picture above. Like an avocado mousse or even a cheese some sort.
Great work, RD
What are your thoughts on brunch overall? After reading Sam Sifton’s little rant about its shortcomings (http://nyti.ms/cjp9Sm), I find myself still to be a fan… What better way could there be to start a day of leisure, such as my upcoming Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday?
I love Balthazar. First time I went (2002), I waited 3 1/2 hr. for table. Hosts at dinning room side were rude and dressed all in black. Because I carried luggage and dressed very casual (got off the bus). I called if there is any dress code or reservation needed. They said no need. We showed up and waited patiently in bar area and caught up with my cousin, there was a really tall, pleasant, and super beautiful host dressed in white who was so polite and attentive. She offered us drinks while we waited and insisted to buy us appetizers when we sat down. We turned down politely. She got us desserts at the end because it was my cousin’s birthday and it was our first time there. She also checked back on us every course of the meal we had. I went to a dining room manager at the end of the night, handed him my business card and told him in front of all the hosts that they were all terrible attitude and I would fire them if I ran that place. I told all of them to look at beautiful host in white dress vs them in black/miserable looking and “I hate my job” attitude. I told that manager our meal was pleasant and she was a keeper. He wrote me a letter with gift certificate which I told him at that time I did not expect anything in return. I gave certificate to one of my server’s BD. I went back a few weeks after, didn’t see any of those miserable hosts but our angel like host. She remembered my first name as well as my ex girlfriend’s nickname. We gave her a hug and invited her to come to the Inn I managed. I have a special place in my heart for this brasserie because of that wonderful hostess.