New York Restaurants are legendary for their varied and high-minded food and design, but Balthazar is something altogether more special. This is the Big Apple’s most authentic brasserie. The moment you step into the almost golden amber interior, you are in a time and place away from the city streets and enveloped in the warm shell of what feels like a brasserie from the golden days of Paris.
It’s easy to imagine a portly gentleman of 1900, mustachioed in the handlebar fashion, finding his usual breakfast table and nodding in the direction of the ink-stained intellectual scribbling in his pad, briefly stopping to sweep flakes of croissant pastry to the floor.
Opened in 1997 by Keith McNally, well known for his other New York Restaurants, he chose an old leather wholesaler’s warehouse in which to realize his sumptuous and ever so stylish brasserie. In the spirit of the glowing Parisian night of the past, Balthazar is open from breakfast until quite late.
On Fridays and Saturdays, the kitchen stays open until 2am. From breakfast to brunch, lunch to dinner and all the way to late-night, there is a marvelous menu just for the time of day. Perhaps the real stars of this fantastic New York Restaurant are the chefs, Lee Hanson and Riad Nasr, each bringing a world of experience from some of the world’s most celebrated eateries.
Like the era it evokes, the food is hearty, delicious and offers a touch of nostalgia for the pleasures of a golden past. Whether you’re in for the Eggs Florentine, the Brioche French Toast with applewood smoked bacon or just the rare delight of a perfect croissant and bowl of cafe au lait, you’ll not only be sampling food worthy of its stellar reviews but food that work seamlessly with the brasserie’s evocative character.
For lunch, you’ll have to choose from such delights as a Duck Shepard’s Pie and a Roast Lamb Sandwich, amongst other marvelous morsels on the menu. The raw seafood bar is one of the highlights, as are the bread. Perhaps a platter of Oysters du Jour with beautifully dry and yeasty champagne from the venerable list might be just the thing to justify an afternoon off.
The wine list is densely packed with wonderful Gallic bottles, but you won’t have to buy the whole things to enjoy an exceptional Chablis, or maybe a fine Vouvray Moelleux to accompany a slither or two from the cheese selection. Dinner also yields quite a few dribble-worthy temptations. The platters for two are definitely worth considering. A Whole Roast Free-Range Chicken with all the country loveliness is a real treat.
There are daily specials too, so you might want to have a look at what is on offer for the rest of the week and plan your next meal accordingly. There will be the next meal. Even though the after-hours menu is stripped down, it offers a selection of favorites and just the thing for a post-show mouthful of something divine. New York Restaurants don’t come more charming and appealing than Balthazar. A feast for every sense, diners are lucky to be in hands of such an inspired team.
If you book for a table of twelve or more, you have the option of a prix fixe menu. Booking is best done well in advance for the busy times, although you’ll probably be able to find a spot for a tasty late-night bite. Located just off Broadway Street on Spring Street, there is plenty of parking in nearby garages.