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Congratulations to Balthazar, which has won the BMW Square Meal Best New Restaurant for spring 2013, beating fierce competition from other distinguished openings of the past six months.
A long-awaited spin-off from the hugely successful New York original (which has remained a lynchpin of the city’s social scene 16 years after opening), Balthazar serves French brasserie food in a buzzy atmosphere worthy of the Big Apple. Although it has not been universally well received by critics, Square Meal readers have praised the restaurant’s ‘pleasant, timely service’, ‘fun atmosphere’ and ‘beautifully cooked’ French classics.
Other restaurants considered by the panel for the spring 2013 award included Bo London, HKK, Coya, Ametsa with Arzak Instruction and Little Social – all of which have made a splash since launching in the capital. But it was owner Keith McNally’s first London venture that won over the judges, due to its theatreland buzz, its stunning good looks and a menu stuffed with hearty dishes diners fancy eating.
‘Balthazar combines beautiful design, fantastic lighting and excellent service with the best atmosphere in town,’ said Square Meal’s editor, Ben McCormack (pictured, far left with BMW UK's Paulo Alves, left, and the Balthazar team). ‘It’s a hugely hyped restaurant that has not only fulfilled expectations but exceeded them. Kudos must go to Keith McNally for giving Londoners something we never knew we wanted, but now couldn’t live without.’
‘Opening Balthazar in London was a lot harder than I initially thought because I knew no one here,’ McNally (pictured, centre) told Square Meal when he accepted the award, adding, ‘I hoped to win Sexiest Man of the Year, but this is an excellent consolation prize.’
Our whole-hearted thanks go to BMW for its continued support of this prestigious award, which is now in its 15th year. Visit the BMW Hall of Fame to see previous winners.