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4-6 Russell Street
According 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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Pre and post-theatre dining
4-6 Russell Street
Covent Garden Tube Station 252m
Charing Cross Tube Station 528m
London Transport Museum 57m
Mon-Sat 7.30am-12M (Sat 9am- ) Sun 9am-11pm
Open from breakfast through to post-theatre suppers, Balthazar throbs with busyness from early morning until late night and the large-scale brasserie creates an impression of metropolitan buzz and excitement the moment you step through the door. The first-floor private dining room is accessed through either the main dining room or, for extras discretion, its own entrance, while an adjoining dedicated bar and lounge will mean your event feels truly private. Expect the same high-spec design flourishes as downstairs – antique floorboards; glossy red leather banquettes; dramatic floral arrangements; impeccably set tables – with a wall of wine guaranteed to be a talking point. Twelve to 60 guests can be accommodated for breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea or dinner, or 25 to 80 standing for drinks and canapés. Set lunch menus start from £40 or, for something less formal, bowl food is an option.
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 3
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
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
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).
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