Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Balthazar


yvonne johnson
 Share

Recommended Posts

Apropos of this discussion, on Page 89 of this month's Food Arts magazine, Balthazar is described as "inextinguishably hot."

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Balth is still pretty hot. Went there for brunch the other day (food sucked actually, but that was a first for me there and I chalked it up to an off day). Place was packed to the gills as ever, line out the door.

I like it for late lunches and late night food.

Last time I was there for lunch, Bono sat next to us - that's hot enough for me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't know about hot, but the staff at Balthazar was definitely very warm and kind to my family last April. We had been shopping and looking for an early dinner before heading off to the theater; it had been snowing, a wet spring snow, and we were cold and drenched. We walked in and asked for a table; they were not open for dinner for awhile and we couldn't wait until they opened. Nevertheless, as we were turning, disappointed, to leave, the young man at the front suggested we buy some food at the takeout room next door, and eat it at one of the tables in the bar. We bought delicious hot soup, salad, and a sandwich, as well as some drinks, and had a satisfying light meal.We were very grateful that the staff invited us to eat there, as it didn't occur to us to do this with takeout food. We will be very happy to return for a real dinner next time we visit NYC.

Roz

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Last time I went to Picholine I sat three feet from Mick Jagger. That doesn't make Picholine hot.

Last time I walked by a Cheesecake Factory in a mall there was a 90 minute wait for tables. That doesn't make Cheesecake Factory hot.

To me, the term "hot" refers for the most part to relatively new restaurants during the phase in their life cycles when they attract the "in crowd." Very few restaurants can manage to be perennially hot like Nobu. Most are hot for a few months or a year at most, and then the in crowd moves on. I know Balthazar is popular and I know it attracts the occasional celebrity. But I simply wouldn't characterize it as a hot restaurant.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 6 months later...
I adore the brandade, which is coarse and rustic, a mound of potatoes and salt cod marked with rivulets of olive oil, and topped with thin shards of toast. You spread a patch of brandade on the toast, and the delicate toast shatters in your mouth. And the crisp, salty French fries, which are served with the steak and a few other dishes, are still the best in the city.

Balthazar (Amanda Hesser)

This post will be updated later today or tomorrow when the regular NYTimes DIGEST is posted.

Soba

Admin: all previous threads relating primarily to discussion of Balthazar have been merged.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Who last reviewed the restaurant? Reichl?

And does anyone know if the last star rating was the same?

I don't know whether it was Reichl or Grimes, but the restaurant has been, and remains, two stars. The Quick Guide to the Best Restaurants in New York on the NYT website consists entirely of ratings from the Reichl/Grimes tenures. No new restaurant reviewed since Grimes departed is on this list, and demoted restaurants (Union Pacific, Montrachet, Compass) are still at their old ratings. Closed restaurants (Lespinasse, Lutèce) still remain.

Balthazar is on this list with two stars, which Hesser has now re-affirmed.

Edited by oakapple (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry but Hesser is wrong. The best meal is brunch and I think it's served on both Saturday and Sunday and it's better than either lunch or breakfast. It is, or course, less French than breakfast or lunch, although the boudin noire and eggs are superb and not exactly all-American either. Otherwise I think she got it right. I probably disagree on some of the favorite dishes and those best left unordered. The vegetable plate is probably best left unordered if you can eat fish or meat in any form. The confit de canard is not the best I've ever had, but it's far better than the last one I had in a brasserie in France and a good value. I've had good tartes or pies from the bakery, but the Pavlova is the dessert I'd recommend. I'll bet I'm repeating myself from some old post.

I am sorry she reviewed it. It will just bring it back up on people's minds and make it all that much harder to get a table. For me, the biggest fault is that I can't walk in without a reservation--not even at lunch. I suppose one can do that at odd hours, but dinner seems to start at five and I don't tend to see empty tables until after nine on an early night. If I didn't know the chefs, I wouldn't recommend this place at all and hope traffic would fall of so I could use it as the neighborhood place I'd like to have at my disposal.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The most powerful impression I get is from the beginning of the review:

EVERY diner I know who has been to Balthazar has a story about being snubbed by the maître d'hôtel, hung up on by the reservationist, or ignored by a waiter tending to a more important guest.

Yet everyone who has a grievance (myself included) returns again and again.

I don't think I'm in a rush to go for the first time. If they have that attitude, fuck 'em.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't think I'm in a rush to go for the first time. If they have that attitude, fuck 'em.

I have never had a problem there, but I have always had a reservation. I like Balthazar, but the tables are way too close together. Maybe it is fine for really small diners.

I would also probably enjoy the place more if I didn't remember their late hostess Lyric Benson.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've never had a service issue either...and second brunch as the best meal (although the Les Panier is available at both brunch and breakfast (where it's cheaper and a few hours fresher) and is a must). The brandade is quite nice and I second the boudin.

There is an unlisted reservation number (available via Google) which I've found will still usually get you a reservation up to a day or so before.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My wife and I went there for brunch a couple of Sundays ago. We got there around 11:30 and were able to get a table without a reservation. I take it that's not typical?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The most powerful impression I get is from the beginning of the review:
EVERY diner I know who has been to Balthazar has a story about being snubbed by the maître d'hôtel, hung up on by the reservationist, or ignored by a waiter tending to a more important guest.

Yet everyone who has a grievance (myself included) returns again and again.

I don't think I'm in a rush to go for the first time. If they have that attitude, fuck 'em.

Every New Yorker has a story. I'm told there's a story for every light on Broadway or something like that. Most of then are lies told to prove how tough we are. There's often a crowd around the hostess' desk, people with reservations who are drinking at the bar seem to appear out of nowhere and it's easy enough to feel you've been snubbed, especially if you're insecure. The place is usually packed and rarely are reservations spaced out enough to guarantee a seat at your appointed time. That sucks. If if sucks bad enough to ruin your evening, it's not your kind of place. I've watched people I thought were behind me, get seated ahead of me and I've watched people I was sure were ahead of me, still standing when I was seated. I've been seated all over the place with no apparent sense of anything other than first come first served. I have the feeling certain baquettes are reserved for VIPs, but I've been sat there too.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is an unlisted reservation number (available via Google) which I've found will still usually get you a reservation up to a day or so before.

That's interesting. I've always assumed one's name had to match one on a list to use that number successfully. That number will often work up to a few hours before dinner, but there comes a time when have to call the restaurant directly and by then the best they're likely to offer is an invitation to stop by and see how long the wait is. What works well is if there's a huge blizzard that day and if you live a few blocks away. Tourists may trudge in, but many uptowners just decide to call in for food rather than suffer getting there through the snow. That's probably true at many places, especially destination places that draw from outside their immediate neighborhood.

My wife and I went there for brunch a couple of Sundays ago.  We got there around 11:30 and were able to get a table without a reservation.  I take it that's not typical?

That's also interesting. I haven't noticed if Sunday brunch is as crowded as I thought it was. Then again, contrary to what I've posted, we once walked in for an early dinner and were seated right away. Our problem is that even an early dinner for us is well after the rush usually begins. We've also waited three quarters of an hour at the bar for a table in the bar--where I believe they don't take reservations. Most of the time we just peek in and see enough people waiting for a table and don't bother.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not sure if anyone has mentioned this or not, but Balthazar's lemonade (at least from their attached coffee and bread annex) is among the best in the city.

I want pancakes! God, do you people understand every language except English? Yo quiero pancakes! Donnez moi pancakes! Click click bloody click pancakes!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My wife and I went there for brunch a couple of Sundays ago. We got there around 11:30 and were able to get a table without a reservation. I take it that's not typical?

brunch there is generally a madhouse.. but the thing is, the place doesn't start to pickup until close to eleven.. i attribute this behavior to the same thing that gets me an outdoor table at coffee shop at the same time, people have realized that there's no alcohol served prior to noon and adjust their schedules accordingly..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bringing up service again: I ate at the restaurant a couple weeks ago, after having made a reservation a month in advance. Being a New Yorker who is familiar with the popularity deal at Balthazar, I knew to make that reservation. I wonder who is trying to come into the restaurant to snag a table without a reservation? Tourists? Or randoms who are trying to land a lucky break? It seems to me that if you're someone who is not familiar with the reputation that Balthazar has, as far as getting a table, then you are definitely going to annoy the maitre d'hotel. I don't quite see why the maitre d'hotel having an attitude problem is a problem in the first place. If you don't have a reservation, then you're screwed; as a comparison, I don't think I would ever try going into Babbo without a reservation (and I've never eaten there, so I don't know what their maitre d'hotel's attitude is like). If you're familiar with the situation that you'll have to make a reservation, then I think it's not quite fair to dump on the maitre d'hotel for not letting people grab tables at the snap of a finger.

With that being said (and I know this isn't a hip suggestion): if you want to eat a leisurely dinner at Balthazar, make the reservation early. My family and I ate at 6:30, and we stayed until 9, 9:15, something like that. We had ordered a seafood plateau, and we weren't sure if we would order entrees afterwards (we had no idea if it would fill us up or not), and the waiter had no problem letting us order entrees after eating the plateau. We had plenty of time, we did not feel rushed: it was wonderful.

I had posted about Balthazar on a graduation dinner thread, and I just want to add: if you ever travel with a handicapped person, then Balthazar is really accomodating. We had an amazing SoHo moment as we were leaving the restaurant: there was a huge group of people waiting to get tables at the front of the house, and as we rolled my mom out of the restaurant, our waiter and another guy ran to the doors, threw themselves in the middle of the crowd, and parted the way for my mom. It was as grand as Moses parting the Red Sea, and the looks on the faces of those people being moved aside for my mom were, of course, not very nice, but in the words of Eric Cartman: screw those guys, we were going home.

Service, obviously, was not a problem at all. :laugh:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 8 months later...

We tried to get in as walkins last night around 6pm. No dice, though Gwynneth Paltrow followed behind me as I left. Fashion week is here!

"It's better to burn out than to fade away"-Neil Young

"I think I hear a dingo eating your baby"-Bart Simpson

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had dinner at the bar on friday around 9....there's never a problem scoring a seat...

as for Balthazar's uniqueness....yes, I think it's the only restaurant in NY that is a true mix of locals, celebs, B&T'ers and tourists, year after year.....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

my friend and i have done early walkins at the bar (early like 630 or 7) for dinner/drinks a few times.  we always kind of laugh at ourselves for going given its tourity clientele and hype but secretly quite enjoy it.

This is my neighborhood and in spite of the fact that the chef is a good friend of my daughter's, I absolutely refused to eat there for sometime after it opened and I truly resented the limos that lined the streets. It took a bit of time to lure me in, but I have to say it's become an exceptionally enjoyable place for us and I've not made that a secret. I'm amused by the celebrities and I'm amused by the tourists. Even the bridge and tunnel people seem as welcome there as anyone else. I am most charmed by the occasional sleeping baby. It's the most democratic dining room in the city, in a way. At least as democratic as any place with more than one phone number. :biggrin:

The food is generally quite good and well priced. The service is of a kind, but it's very good service. There's an occasional poseur, but mostly the waiters are very professional and hard working. They have a good system of runners and it's really well managed. It also serves a wide budget. The carafe wines are good value, but there's also an interesting and extensive wine list, all French as I recall.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

my friend and i have done early walkins at the bar (early like 630 or 7) for dinner/drinks a few times.  we always kind of laugh at ourselves for going given its tourity clientele and hype but secretly quite enjoy it.

It's the most democratic dining room in the city, in a way. At least as democratic as any place with more than one phone number. :biggrin:

The carafe wines are good value, but there's also an interesting and extensive wine list, all French as I recall.

all very true, & having been there recently, i did notice the wine list WAS all French. another nice little attention to detail by McNally which continues to emphasize his attention to detail, & subtle way of reminding his clientele this is, in fact, a French brasserie!!!!!! why does Balthazar have to exist so far away from MY neighborhood :sad:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...