This restaurant is literally the hottest place in town and you have to make some big promises to get a table.
First, you see the perfect ‘movie-set’ looking boulangerie next door to the restaurant, which at dusk is lit beautifully. Then you squeeze yourself into the doorway of the actual restaurant to get the maître ‘D’s attention and convince them that ‘yes I really do have a booking!’.
The design is replicated from Keith McNally’s original Balthazar in Manhattan, which opened in 1997 (and is still open), you do have to pinch yourself to remind yourself that you are in London and not New York. The hubbub of noise hits you the instant you walk through the restaurant; it has a great vibe and the red décor is cheerful and upbeat. The menu is that of traditional French brasserie and classic bistro.
We started with the Cream of Cauliflower soup, so, so delicious – a creamy, thick yet smooth bowl of cauliflower deliciousness. I then had the Winter Kale salad (which came with roasted butternut squash, almonds and cranberries), mashed potatoes and steamed spinach (however the spinach came with garlic so I chose to share with my guest – the mashed potatoes were ALL mine though). My friend had the pork belly (the brussels sprouts had run out so she had broccoli instead) with black pudding hash and smoked apple purée. Our plates were clean by the end but we really wanted to try a dessert… the Pavlova sounded the most do-able (between us) – the meringue was on top of warm berries (yum) and inside the meringue a cheeky berry sorbet – eye wateringly tasty.
Fabulous service, delicious food – my only grumble being that there was no gluten free bread but I think going forward that may be covered. If you’re looking for an intimate dinner for two this may not be for you but if you want somewhere with a great atmosphere right in the heart of theatreland then you should track down the Maître ‘D’s private line to try for a reservation…
(Photo credits David Loftus)
Have you been to Balthazar yet? Did you love it too?