If you desire a classic, sophisticated dinner in the heart of Theatreland; the Balthazar provides the perfect setting to relax and indulge in ‘A La Carte’ cuisine. Located in London’s Covent Garden, this upscale French Brasserie is often amongst the astir of guests who attended the district's theatres, boutiques and bars that evening.
Balthazar is originally an American restaurant which was founded in 1997 by London-Born Keith Mcmally in Manhattan, New York City.
It was then additionally opened in London 16 years later as a subsequence to its success in the Big Apple and popularity with the American influence in London’s West End.
Approaching the Front of House upon arrival, we were conventionally greeted by the host, although when we arrived punctually to our booking time of 8:30pm, we were asked to wait a further 15 minutes as our reserved table was still occupied, there was quite a few parties having to wait at the entrance including ourselves as the brasserie was overwhelmed with guests. It was such a bustling and rather hectic Saturday night, so having to stand-by was acceptable.
Walking into the brasserie had a timeless, traditional ambience to it; it felt intimate yet hospitable, the fact that the restaurant was dimly lit encourages a ‘Tête à Tête’ meal as despite the busy environment, you seem to feel in private simultaneously. Balthazar is truly era-defying and abiding, the theme is classically French which is evident when you take notice to it’s red leather banquettes, antique lighting and the vintage, large-scaled mirrors and windows. It most definitely felt grand and elegant to the eye.
To commence our dining experience at Balthazar, my boyfriend and I requested a Basket of Parisian Baguette which was recommended as our shared starter; in addition to this, my boyfriend ordered himself his go-to French dish, Escargot, and I decided to try Balthazar’s ‘Onion Soup Gratinee’. I was so excited to try this as French Onion Soup is one of my favourite comfort dishes, so of course we both had high expectations!
After some chit-chatter and drinks our starters arrived at our table. Initiating with the Escargot; I loathe to start on a negative note, but sadly the Escargot was disappointing. My partner felt unhappy with the fact that the recipe has changed since his previous visits. Each Escargot contained mashed potato at the bottom which unfortunately burdened the dish as it diminished the flavour.
On the other hand, my Onion Soup Gratinee was scrumptious! The beautifully caramelised onions add delicate sweetness, yet the broth itself was palatable and savoury, the melted cheese also allows a tender richness in the taste. This dish is the perfect starter and the epitome of a favourable hors d’oeuvre! Despite the complete contrasts in our starters, we were eager to try our next course.
For our mains, I decided to try the Les Grillades Balthazar Hamburger with French Fries, whereas my partner went for the Les Plates’ Corn-Fed chicken.
In all honesty, the Balthazar Hamburger was nothing too special.
Yes it was comparatively tasty and the hamburger was cooked perfectly, although with it being a typical dish at Balthazar I would’ve expected something more distinctive with more ‘oomph’ and character. The presentation also seemed rather boring, therefore It didn’t quite meet my expectations this time. Perhaps next time I’ll try something more exotic and contrasting!
Followingly, the Corn-Fed chicken itself seemed quite dry at first; however the dish had this delicious Morel Cream Sauce which was such a treat to indulge in, I couldn’t resist trying the sauce with my french fries as it was so good! Fortunately this lessened the dryness in the chicken and made the meal really enjoyable.
So all in all, our experience at Balthazar felt rather tentative as a whole. Without a doubt, the atmosphere at the brasserie is effortlessly classy and quintessential; it is such a pleasant environment to dine in. However, what made our experience dwindle was our dinner. It wasn’t entirely up to par therefore our expectations were not met as a whole.
Contrasting this, my Onion Soup Gratinee was superb and I was very content with it! We may have just been unlucky with our dishes on this occasion. Balthazar has a variety of cuisine to choose from, so depending on what you order you may have a wholly different experience. Therefore I would still recommend Balthazar to others and encourage you to pay a visit!