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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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Despite the maître d' greeting me with ‘oh, yes’ on offering up the name of our reservation and thus creating the impression of an old friend, the experience was like visiting a poor step-brother of Café Rouge (without the discount vouchers) whose mother is Browns – trying to capture late 20th century Paris even down to the faux cigarette smoke on the ceiling, but serving food reminiscent of a Tesco finest meal with waiters who aren't really up to speed. I was disappointed.
I can be more specific:
• the fries: half were fried to a crisp and inedible;
• the apple tart: the pastry was like cardboard (hard to break to get on the spoon/fork and almost inedible) and the apple just tasted of burnt calvados, not pleasant;
• the waiter didn't understand us apart from when we ordered – he couldn't describe dishes, didn’t suggest any sides even though we asked for a recommendation and when I asked him to change the service charge to round up the bill he got flustered and did nothing;
• the main of duck shepherd's pie was rich, but actually marginally worse than I’d expect from Tesco finest meal – rich but bland with grated cheese on top; • no finger bowl was provide for the main of mussels
• the toilets are upstairs – quite a trek
• while most restaurants serve small glass bottles of cola, those at Balthazar are tiny – no taller than the length of a hand. And £2.50;
• I was expecting lovely bread – but it (and the butter) was really too hard to eat – not enough choice;
• we had to try four times to get attention to get our bill and at least as many times to get the attention of our waiter to pay the bill – no other waiter would pay us any attention despite my request for assistance.
The service and the food need to improve and even having a good corner seat and seeing a celebrity (who we had to Google because we weren't sure of his surname) wasn't enough to make me want to go back. I can't actually think of a less disappointed restaurant experience I've had in London.