Balthazar, Keith McNally’s wildly successful faux-Parisian Brasserie, is a stylish restaurant of nearly inexhaustible charm. Part of the reason Balthazar is perennially packed is its ambiance: the room is awash in distressed tile, faded mirrors and banquettes perfectly positioned for people watching in the celeb- and model-packed environment. But the more enduring explanation is that, like McNalley’s Minetta Tavern, Balthazar serves much higher quality food than it really needs to given its trendiness and reputation.
Balthazar’s traditional bistro fare is among the best in the city, including an outstanding warm goat cheese and caramelized onion tart, excellent bread from its bakery, and very fine interpretations of standby classics like steak tartare and steak frites. The latter merits special emphasis as Balthazar’s crisp, salty fries are the closest one can get to Paris this side of the Atlantic. You should expect a wait – regardless of your reservation time – although that annoyance is somewhat mitigated by the pleasure in waiting at the astonishingly beautiful zinc bar area and having a glass of wine or a cocktail. Balthazar also serves the best brunch in the city, notwithstanding the vexation attendant with attempting to maneuver through a sea of jostling aspirants lacking reservations.
80 Spring St.
New York (at Crosby St.)
(212) 965-1414 Mon-Thurs, 7:30am-11:30am, noon-5pm, 6pm-midnight; Fri, 7:30am-11:30am, noon-5pm, 6pm-1am; Sat, 8am-4pm, 6pm-1am; Sun, 8am-4pm, 5:30pm-midnight
RECOMMENDED DISHES See All
- Warm goat cheese and caramelized onion tart
- Steak tartare
- Balthazar salad - with haricots verts, asparagus, fennel, ricotta salata and truffle vinaigrette
- Plateaux de fruits de mer
- Sautéed skate - with raisin, caper, pistachio beurre noisette and celeriac purée
- Steak frites - with maître d’ butter or béarnaise sauce
- Duck shepherd’s pie
- Bouillabaisse (friday’s only)
- Apple tart tatin - with crème anglaise and vanilla ice cream