Balthazar New York has adopted something of a ritualistic status on visits to the Big Apple. There are no doubt newer, some may say better, places to satisfy your breakfast needs but without fail it is always the first on the breakfast (or, being honest, brunch) list when we head to Manhattan. There is a cosy familiarity to the place which means that you can happily while away a few hours over brunch, offering a perfect place to plan the rest of your stay whilst the city bustles past outside.
The defining feature of Balthazar, for us, is its charm. Read any review of Balthazar and, inevitably, this is the word that is used. There is something about its antiqued mirrors and wine-red banquettes that envelopes you as you arrive and makes it clear that yes, this is a place that you are going to hole up in for a good few hours so get comfortable. Now granted, this is a “faux-French in the heart of New York City” approach to decor, which also leads to more sceptical reviews. However, if we were being fair, substitute the style/locale and surely that is not too dissimilar to most other restaurants on offer? Either way, this is a restaurant that has remained hot-property since Keith McNally opened its doors in 1997 so it must be doing something right.
The menu is created courtesy of chef de cuisine Shane McBride and is exactly what you would expect from a French inspired New York restaurant. Eggs (any way you would like them) with a large portion of home fries are on offer and the Eggs Norwegian were a particular success, although lighter options in the form of fruit and granola are available. The full breakfast menu can be found here. Coffee lovers be sure to order an Americano rather than a ‘black coffee’ if you want any kind of kick in your cup – the latter, although unlimited, doesn’t really hit the spot…
The popularity of the restaurant is worth a mention. Expect to queue for weekend brunch and, if you have the option, try to go on a weekday when the restaurant is quieter and you can enjoy a leisurely brunch (and the odd Bloody Mary or two) without feeling the murderous stare of queuing diners. If you want the food without the queues Balthazar Bakery, situated next door to the restaurant, offers an array of take away options.
The facts: Balthazar can be found at 80 Spring Street (at Crosby Street), its’ website is here. In terms of price, the food is not cheap but generous portions will keep you full for the day. As a general rule the restaurant is open from 7.30/8am – midnight. However, times differ and a detailed list of opening hours can be found here.