Balthazar restaurant is an institution in New York. Located in Soho, it has been opened in 1997 by Keith McNally and co-chefs Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson. The place is famous for its food and for the bakery, with a store located outside of the restaurant. You can even find Balthazar breads and viennoiseries (croissants, chocolate croissants...) in supermarket or other restaurants. I have to say that each time I had some, it was delicious.
Coming back to the restaurant: the decor is impressive. It is located in an old leather wholesale building; it has high ceilings with fans, and the walls have impressive mirrors. But, it is a madhouse! You'd better get a reservation! Between the tourists who are coming because Balthazar is in all the guides, the people eager to see celebrities and those who really like the food, they have no problem to get customers (waiting inside and outside)! Unfortunately, it comes to a price: they have maximized the space with tables everywhere, sacrificing comfort either for the clients or for the wait staff. For instance, it was difficult for the staff to access our table located in a corner because it was stuck between a large round table and another long table, with no space to go in between. Despite this, the service was very efficient and I have to say, extremely nice.
The brunch menu proposes a nice upscale version of traditional French dishes, such as the salad nicoise that is in France served with canned tuna, but there, with seared tuna.
They of course have a basket of fresh baked breads and pastries from their bakery. Always delicious. You will anyway have the opportunity to try their bread as they bring a bread basket with butter to the table.
The Pain au Levain (sourdough bread) was excellent.
We then tried one of their best sellers: the warm goat cheese and caramelized onion tart. It was served with a salad. We did not know it was coming with a salad and ordered the mixed field greens with vinaigrette, but the waiter warn us that the tart came anyway with a salad. I have to say that I always appreciate that! In a lot of restaurants, they would just let you order.
Then, I ordered the poached eggs boudin noir. Boudin noir is a sausage of mixed pork meat cooked in blood that gives the black color. Hence the name of blood sausage. It is a traditional dish in France, but I never tried it before.
It was served with two perfectly made poached eggs, potatoes, caramelized onions and frisee salad. The sausage looked pretty good and shiny. But it was a bit tough to cut as the skin was thick. It tasted a bit like a pate with a similar texture. Like pate, I could eat so much of it. I probably left a third at the end.
We finished with an apple tart tatin. This was a deception!
At the end of the day, it was an ok brunch, on the pricey side. I think for the same price I would more go to The Standard Grill and for a less pricey to Marseilles!