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|Address:||4-6 Russell Street, London WC2E 7BN|
|Tel:||020 3301 1155|
|Price: £56.00||Wine: £20.00||Champagne: £61.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Fri 7.30-11am 12N-3.30pm 6.30-9.30pm|
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There has been a lot of noise about Balthazar. The European in me finds it a bit ridiculous to make such fuzz about what in the end is supposed to “simulate” a staple of any major French city – a Brasserie. However, and how recognition from Square Meal themselves shows, this is not any Brasserie, it is one that was set up by a brit, successfully exported to NYC and now re-imported to London. Right. Again, much ado about something straight forward and actually quite logical. Covent Garden has not had any important new additions to its stale offering of dining options since the opening of the Delaunay, probably the most natural rival to Balthazar about two years ago. The various chains that have popped up are getting ever more expensive and poorer value for money, so an all-day, pretty Brasserie directly opposite the Royal Opera House makes plenty of sense. My verdict is that it pulls it off nicely. Yes, compared to Wolseley-stable restaurants it is not quite as run in, but in its second month it is running well and the service is extremely friendly and efficient. More importantly, it an enrichment for the area and really does have a menu ranging from a quick snack to a full meal and a wine list to match. However, more importantly, with the relative importance of Wolseley, Delaunay, Zédel, Colbert et at, London desperately needs a counter weight in this league of gastronomy and when you have been to Balthazar, it does feel like it just might have arrived.