A boisterous New York landmark from Keith McNally that represents everything right and wrong with dining in the city. In its 18th year, Balthazar is less about trend-setting and more about serving well-crafted French food with old-world appeal.
Balthazar is built like a glowing, bustling French brasserie, but the reality is that you would never find anything like Balthazar in Paris. And that's because Balthazar is so exquisitely New York, from its luscious, hard-hitting flavors to its machine-like ability to turn out 1500 overpriced meals over an entire day. Balthazar is what we know and don't always love about New York, with a sometimes carelessly indifferent staff and a perpetual power-brunch and -lunch crowd since its opening in 1997, but it's always a place to which we'll return with fondness.
The Steak Frites, by far the most popular item on the menu because the fries are astoundingly perfect, is fortunately available at any time of the day, but if paying $39 for a brunch option isn't in the cards, the Apple Cinnamon Pancakes are a more modest but still lovingly cooked option. The Eggs Florentine composed of two poached eggs in a cast iron pan with spinach, artichoke hearts, béchamel sauce, and parmesan cheese heaps generous flavor upon generous flavor, balancing the richness of the eggs with the bitterness of the spinach.
Still eternally popular because of the way it bestows the feeling of a comfortable, seasoned Manhattanite upon anyone who dines in its cozy, glimmering corners, reservations are a must, though only 4-5 days in advance. Yet if bottomless brunch is more your thing, Balthazar, then, is not, but particularly parents or guests from out of town will appreciate the purity that is dining with fine china and silver. Ultimately, a meal at Balthazar will capture New York in all of its pomp and glory, with all of its French influences and its uniquely apathetic culture, and just like New York, it will have you desperate to return the very moment you leave.