Balthazar adds to London’s ever growing list of brasseries and is the creation of Keith McNally (I’ve never heard of him either). With its location right in the heart of Covent Garden and being an almost carbon copy of the already popular original Balthazar in New York it means getting a reservation is not the easiest of tasks. My gentleman companion and I happened to be passing at 5pm and thought we’d try our luck and were offered a table as long as we returned it within an hour and a half – result!
The dining room was huge and looked beautiful. It wasn’t quite as grand as Brasserie Zedel but what it did have was a really loud buzzy atmosphere – the kind that made me want to stay forever. What felt like hundreds of staff scurried between tables in an organised chaos type fashion yet it all seemed to be running smoothly.
Now would be a good time to say how friendly everyone was. Staff smiled and comfortably made conversation with us – I felt like I was being served by people I’d met before. This charming quality from every member staff made the experience a really special one.
House bread served with a wedge of unsalted butter kicked things off and was mahoosive. The white baguette was my favourite with it’s delightfully chewy crust and spongy middle.
As we were a little short on time and we were aware the menu could be a little pricey we dived straight in to mains. I opted for the duck confit with roasted potatoes, cippolini onions, wild mushrooms and frisée salad (£16.50). Every single thing about this dish was ruddy delicious. The duck had a crispy skin and succulent juicy meat and the potatoes had a caramelised coating. The mushrooms added texture and the mini onions were the sweetest I’ve ever tasted. It was a rich and hearty delight.
My gentleman companion’s pork belly with sprouting broccoli and black pudding (£15.50) followed suit in terms of big yummy flavours. The belly was soft with a crunchy crackling top and the black pudding added richness. Both dishes were of generous size and really filled us up.
A side of onion rings (£4.50) started off great, the top layer was crunchy and grease free but sadly the ones on the bottom of the dish were covered in oil and had gone soggy and therefore became sickly.
For pudding we decided to share the profiteroles with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce (£7) which tasted so good I wish I’d ordered my own! The ice cream was actually inside the profiteroles and was a great substitute for cream. The chocolate sauce was so incredibly good I could drink gallons of the stuff; as it was, an extra jug was provided which I very nearly licked clean. Total indulgent bliss!
We loved our visit to Balthazar. Everything from the food, to the service, to the atmosphere was really spot on. It’s not all cheap but if you order wisely and avoid some of the costlier items on the menu (steak au poivre at £29) then I think it’s really good value. If I can get a table, I can’t wait to go back!