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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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Before booking Balthazar I read the reviews and wondered: what's with all the American-bashing just because they are trying to do French? Isn't every Englishman secretly looking forward to the day when someone beats the French at their own game? On that frabjous day won't we stand shoulder to shoulder with the winners, flicking the V-sign in all its glorious Agincourt-laden beauty across La Manche? Then I call to make a booking for Saturday lunch and a man with a French accent so thick it can only be fake answers and tells me “we don't do ze lonch on Saturday, just ze bronch”. So I can't book a table for 1pm? Yes, you can book between 11am and 4pm (my translation). But just for brunch, not lunch. Now listen up mon ami, that's what we here call “lunch”. Well, when we arrive and are given the menu it looks pretty lunch-ish to me. At first glance it's French, but yes, Macaroni Cheese gives away the US bent. Personally I like the menu: it's wide-ranging so there'll be something for everyone, whatever the mood. For example, we order between us steak frites, a cheeseburger and lobster spaghetti, with spinach and dauphinoise sides. My steak is done exactly as ordered (medium rare) and, dare I say it, as well as any Frenchman. The other girls declare themselves happy with their food too and happy here in general. The place is rammed and waiters are dashing all over the place but still service is gallicly good (charming and unrushed but effective) although when I ask for the ladies I'm told they are through that door marked 1er etage on the “Premier Etage, which, Madame, iz French for first floor”. Alright, Clouseau, a simple “through the door and up the stairs ” would have done it. At £45 a head (mains/sides, mimosas, shared dessert, coffees, service) we declared it a great spot for a girls lunch or indeed brunch. Turns out they are in fact different menus but why remains a mystery to me. So, it's not French and it's not American. Who cares? It's not bad.