Balthazar 22

4-6 Russell Street , London, WC2B 5HZ

  • Balthazar August 2016 4
  • Balthazar August 2016 1
  • Balthazar August 2016 2

SquareMeal Review of Balthazar

Hall of FameAccording to one reader, Balthazar could be “the best brasserie in London for atmosphere and service". Elsewhere, abundant praise for the lively buzz and "happy, friendly staff" is proof that this London outpost of Keith McNally's upscale bistro lives up to the reputation of his NYC original. By and large, the food wins approval too, with particular mentions for the "delicious afternoon tea" and "just the best dauphinoise potatoes". Order them alongside wickedly rich duck confit or coq au vin, preceded by chicken liver parfait, steak tartare or garlicky escargots. The all-day offer also includes delectable pastries from Balthazar’s boulangerie next door, omelette Arnold Bennett for brunch, plateaux de fruits de mer from the seafood bar or eggs mimosa followed by roast hake with bouillabaisse soup on the prix fixe. "It's a great place for breakfast, lunch or dinner and business meetings" concludes one ardent admirer; another simply says “sit back, enjoy the buzz and don’t worry about your wallet”.

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7.9

Food & Drink: 7.7

Service: 7.9

Atmosphere: 8.8

Value: 6.6

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 2.0

Martin B. 15 February 2016

Balthazar could be the best brasserie in London for atmosphere and service. It's lively, buzzing, the staff are wonderful, and it serves lunch till 4pm, plus a limited menu after that for late-late lunchers. Sadly the food is so-so; on our visit the regular Wednesday special, Coq au Vin, was dried up, dull and over-cooked. Wine is expensive, with barely a bottle under £30, most are £40 - £60 and upwards. There's some house carafes at £19 for 500ml (2/3 of a bottle) if you're not too thirsty, though their wonderful American barman creates great cocktails. An indulgent lunch for two can head towards £200, more if you start exploring the wine list. Sit back, enjoy the buzz and don't worry about your wallet.

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 3.0

Hugo G. silver reviewer 11 August 2015

A magnificent room beautifully decorated and buzzing with energy. Friendly attentive staff and plenty of them. We ordered the 500cl carafes of Chardonnay and Grenache on the wine list. The wine glasses were of poor quality and smelt. they were replaced with similarly poor ones that also had a stale odour. It killed the white for my date, but didn't bother me as much. A starter of dressed crab in the shell was good with a piquant marie rose sauce on the side. Escargot, equally good, a starter for 1/2 a dozen. Before our mains arrived, three empty bowl plates did, each dripping with water. they were left on the table to drip and leave a nice damp patch which would have developed nicely across the table had I not dried them individually with my napkin. One was for the mussel shells to come, the other two were never explained or required. The mains of Moules Frites and Confit were distinctly average. The mussels themselves were fresh and decent but the coagulated white wine and cream that they came in was rather off-putting. A wonderfully large portion, but a poor representation. The confit was adequate, but not great. An attempt to crispen the skin had managed to char it but still it remained soggy. The meat itself was good but tepid, as was the melange of french butter beans and greens underneath. The frites that came with the moules were particularly disappointing, both luke-warm and soggy. We didn't go for desert. Two courses, tap water and two carafes of house wine totalled GBP117.00 Sadly Balthazar seems to have succumbed to the area's tourist trap opportunity and begun churning out basic fare poorly, albeit in a beautiful environment. Not an experience I will repeat.

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 4.0

Thomas A. 04 August 2015

The details are important when you're entertaining and they shouldn't be ignored while entertaining out of the home. I've had a few excellent experiences here, not only with service, but also the staff have been very accommodating to requests out-of-the-norm such as sending cakes to tables via phone, changing reservations and extra little requests. You may know Balthazar by name but you should really get to know it for what it is- and that's a perfectly accommodating restaurant which is focussed on creating moments in a humble way. Very impressed with the whole experience- now go for brunch which is where they really shine (literally, the interior is quite bright when it's sunny out) as there's nothing better than a mid-day meal with cocktails on the weekend or business lunch if you happen to be in the area. If you can, request a booth instead of a table in the mid-section as it will be much more comfortable if you have a group of four or more (or ask if you have a special occasion and would like the space perhaps).

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 3.0

The Cheese platinum reviewer 24 July 2015

I heart Balthazar. So much so, I want to scribble its name across exercise books, and practice my new signature (in the event that we marry). Granted we had an excellent meal, but it was more than that; something majestic happened when we skipped up the stairs, past the doorman and through its tarnished golden gates. The tourist hell/hen armageddon that is Covent Garden’s Piazza simply melted away, leaving in its place a spectacle with all the trappings of a London institution. It attracts a mixed crowd, but finds equilibrium between any restaurant snobs, deal-closing high rollers and clued-up tourists. Vibrant chatter erupts from each leather banquette, with an atmosphere that is buoyant, bustling and super animated. Bookings during peak are still elusive, but the room was already buzzing during an early Wednesday sitting. (Corner booths proved to be the sweet spots, so worth requesting in advance of dinner a deux). We’d perved at the menu ahead of our visit, so were mentally prepared for (very) steep prices. It takes some chops to charge a tenner for buttered asparagus and a fiver for fries, but - bafflingly - we both felt okay with it, given the whole experience was such an unadulterated pleasure. (It's worth noting that the £22.50 prix fixe menu bags you steak tartare followed by seabass and dessert; the veggie alternatives are less grand, but remain a bargain). I was gutted to miss out on 'schnitzel Thursday', but the menu was lust-worthy nonetheless. I’d recommend starters on the lighter side as mains are rich and ducktastic. My friend flagrantly disregarded this, plumping for a ballsy chicken liver parfait followed by the day’s special of saffron scallop risotto. Within minutes, there wasn’t a grain left, so I’m guessing the latter was pretty dreamy. I sampled the lauded shepherd’s pie; a fiercely bubbling duck ragu topped with gloriously browned mash. Resolutely French puds included a tarte tatin with obscenely buttery pastry and luscious caramel, then a voluminous raspberry soufflè with an accomplished degree of wibble. Both were delicious but - lordy - I do hope the Gascon paradox was at work… we must’ve knocked back eight pats of butter between us, so a glass of medicinal red should’ve been on the cards. Which brings me to the wine list: exclusively French and manageable in scope, with plenty by the glass or carafe. Having been seduced by our surroundings, we splashed out on sparkling wine. Non-vintage Champagne starts at £61, but here’s a tip: scoot down the menu to the lesser known regions, and you’ll find bubbles in the form of Blanquette de Limoux for 40 quid. Très bon! As for staff, there was never a downturned mouth, with beaming faces in all directions and pitch-perfect attentiveness. Our verdict? Management has the formula right, and then some. I’m astonished by anyone immune to Balthazar's charms, as I’m already plotting excuses to return. Ahead of our visit, my friend asked if it was merely a 'jumped-up Cafe Rouge’, having heard that the tablecloths are made of paper. Moments in and any regrets concerning starched linen (or the absence thereof) had disappeared in a flurry of child-like glee. This place already carries a sense of gravitas akin to the Ivy, so I’d be inclined to chime in and endorse the considerable hype; we couldn’t recommend it highly enough.

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 5.0

Daniel M. 06 July 2015

Genuinely my favourite restaurant. Went there at the end of 2014 and it was exquisite. The location is perfect, the food was fantastic and the staff were incredibly helpful. Would love to go back soon.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 1.0

claire w. 16 June 2015

Got invited to this place with friends for a birthday. was ok, but having been to a few places in the last month it really was a case of hmm. . . ok. restaurants in London these days seem to be all so cost conscious that they are really being stingy with their portions and generally lacking in the wow factor. We dinned 2 weeks earlier in the Tower bridge walk ways for an posh London event thing and can't help but feel that most restaurant experiences these days don’t live up to this sort of thing or even have any sense of occasion, in fact in my judgement quality catering at luxury events invariably beat even a posh ramsey run restaurant (I went to his place once, nothing special). I would go back but only if they dropped their prices quite a lot and gave the staff a shot caffeine to liven them up a bit.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 3.0

Luncheon Vulture platinum reviewer 09 June 2015

Have been to Balthazar a few times now but we are always in a bit of a rush to get to curtain up somewhere in the vicinity. For once an 8pm start meant that we could afford to linger longer than usual but I don't know whether it is the buzziness of the place or just our natural tendency to rush knowing we need to be somewhere else, but we still found it difficult to dawdle over the meal here. Which is a huge shame as the surroundings, food itself and the wonderful staff deserve to be savoured. Honours were pretty even on the menu choice; my prawn cocktail probably nicked it from himself's octopus salad, but little to choose between my duck shepherd's pie (although it could have been bettered with a touch more mash topping) and his herby rump of lamb. My one and only gripe here though is the price of the side dishes; a fiver a pop is a somewhat inflated price to pay for such small embellishments (which I later learned is the translation for the "garnitures" as they are termed on the menu). Overall I think it does just edge it over the neighbouring Delaunay, but next time we go it will be with nothing planned afterwards so we can truly savour the experience fully.......

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 1.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 3.0

paul s. silver reviewer 20 March 2015

I had high hopes after my visit the Balthazar New York. But I was so disappointed. Slow and sloppy service. I have never seen so many miserable staff, not one smile, everything was an effort. Food was average at best. Duck rillette was average nothing to shout about. We opted for the Thursday special of Veal escalope after our waitress told us it was a plate size portion. What arrived was a greasy, overcooked, burnt ,lukewarm escalope no bigger than a tea saucer with a fried egg on top. Awful!! Gratin Dauphinois would have been nice if it had been hot . Totally overpriced. Totally overhyped! Biggest disappointment of the year for me! :-(

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 5.0

Richard A. 05 December 2014

Eating at Balthazar is always a magic experience. The food is excellent, and while it is far from cheap (where is cheap in London?) it is always done to a "T". My guest had entrecôte while I had the steak goulash. Delicious is the only word. We both followed up with Christmas Pudding (as it is the Season!) and it had some lovely contrasting tastes. The service is always impeccable (apart from the time a waiter spilled the bottle of water on me - it was his first day, poor chap) and yet it is never intrusive. The decor was great and suitably festive, while the atmosphere just has a sense of a bygone age. A really lovely evening - thank you to the staff at Balthazar!

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 3.0

Marco F. 29 September 2014

Very good full English with lovely panier of bread and sweets alongside!

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Private Room
Capacity: 60