Balthazar London, one of the most anticipated new restaurant openings of recent times, opened on Monday 18 February 2013 in the old Covent Garden ‘flower cellars’ on the corner of Russell Street and Wellington Street.
The original Balthazar was opened in New York City by Keith McNally in 1997, and has been one of New York’s most popular restaurants ever since. The move to London was a brave one; restaurants and trends don’t always cross the Atlantic successfully. But this one works, and on many levels – food, service, design and that elusive thing called buzz.
With a look of startling similarity to the original restaurant, Balthazar London has the red banquettes, large mirrors and imposing columns. Service is seamless under the direction of ever affable Byron Lang, who has previously worked at most major ‘it’ London restaurants such as The Ivy and The Wolseley.
From a menu of classic French fare, the brasserie favourites are all present. We tried the Steak au Poivre (a huge slab of beef with crispy fries and spinach) and the roast chicken on a bed of vegetables and side of mash potatoes (again, a generous portion served with ceremony).
For dessert, we shared the chocolate soufflé (light, fluffy and, once more, a huge portion) and a classic tart tartin (which, although lovely, could have benefited from a little more ice cream). One of my guests reported that, from a previous visit, the rhubarb soufflé was delightful.
Make sure you allow enough time for a drink at the bar, which is under the control of legendary bar man Brian Silva, who has worked at some of London’s best cocktail bars. This won’t be a problem though, as Balthazar London is a place where you’ll want to linger all day.
Balthazar London will eventually be open for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, plus weekend brunch, with food available all day long, although only dinner will be available until March.
As in New York, Balthazar London has a boulangerie next door, which has some wonderful bead that they also serve in the restaurant.
For reservations, call +44 20 3301 1155 or contact your concierge at Bon Vivant.
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