A polished imitation of a New York institution - itself an interpretation of a buzz-tastic French brasserie. Booking essential.
In early 2013, Keith McNally’s much-anticipated NYC import Balthazar finally opened, and London got to see what this Manhattan interpretation of a French brasserie was actually like. The response was positive, and for weeks afterwards it was hard to get a table.
Chef Robert Reid has tinkered little with the nostalgic transatlantic menu, and we loved signature dishes such as the onion soup (grilled gruyère lid on thick country bread, immersed in a rich and sweet chicken stock); duck shepherd’s pie was another powerfully flavoured treat. More recently, some of the gloss seems to have worn off (though service remains prompt and friendly).
The cheeseburger, no bargain at £17, was a chunky patty but had little flavour, and needed more than the limited, bland trimmings to give it an oomph that might have justified the price tag. A pleasant gruyère and herb omelette tasted as though it had lingered a little too long at the pass.
Best was pavlova (one of several delightfully retro desserts) – it may not have looked like a classic version (the meringue sat on the fruit, rather than the other way round), but it tasted good.
Bread, from master baker Jon Rolfe, is a must-try. Balthazar London mimics the New York original perfectly, with red awnings, red leather banquettes, giant antiqued mirrored walls and mosaic floors, but to British eyes, the decor can look a little too close to any old chain brasserie.
4-6 Russell Street
|Opening hours:||Breakfast served 7.30-11am, lunch served noon-3.15pm Mon-Fri. Brunch served 10am-3.30pm Sat, Sun. Afternoon tea served 3-5.30pm daily. Dinner served 5.30-11pm Mon-Thur; 5.30-11.45pm Fri, Sat; 5.30-10.30pm Sun|
|Transport:||Tube: Covent Garden tube|
|Price:||Main courses £13-£37|
|Do you own this business?|
Average User Rating
3.4 / 5
- 5 star:8
- 4 star:13
- 3 star:2
- 2 star:7
- 1 star:4
I really enjoyed my stay at balthazar. My waitor was very professional and friendly. Looking forward to visit the NY one.
Seriously good food at Balthazar. I have been here a few times and have always really enjoyed it. The service was absolutely brilliant and although it was busy (and always is), they never seemed phased by it. Love the cocktails too, had a great espresso martini to round of a great meal.
A very good French-style (even if not owned by a French) brasserie. The ambiance is awesome, service is quite good and the food is terrific. For sure the best english breakfast in town, try it.
Balthazar is a french brasserie set in the heart of Covent Garden. Lovely atmosphere and decor – great to take a date or your visiting guests from abroad. The food is of a high standard – the duck confit was as good as we have sampled in France. The afternoon tea was good value at £25 compared to the high end hotels such as the Ritz or Claridges; scones were delightful and the patisseries beautifully presented. The sandwiches were rather average and dry though.
During the day, the venue is casual enough for children however the acoustics of the room means it gets very noisy. There were large groups of ladies-who-lunch, sipping their tea and we felt slightly out of place in the grand settings. Highchairs available, tables a little tightly packed to house buggies. Staff were extremely helpful and friendly – top marks there.
I visited for a wonderfully decadent and enjoyable brunch with 6 friends - full details and lots of photos on my blog here: http://hyhoi.com/2014/09/balthazar-french-brasserie-covent-garden/
Have You Heard Of It? | London bar & restaurant blog | HYHOI.com
The service was good but the food was awful. I was warned about the food prior to my visit so I ordered a steak frites thinking that they must have at least a hundred people ordering this everyday so they must be v experienced at cooking this dish, and honestly it's just steak and fries, what can possibly go wrong right? Well it went wrong, had no taste (bad steak) and was way over-cooked (felt like I was eating carpet) even though I asked for medium-rare. My friend ordered a risotto which was very salty. The wine was fine but the food was definitely a let-down.
How long does it take to get a booking for Friday night, and how long to get one for Thursday lunch?
Great brunch/lunch spot -great food and atmosphere. Steak Tartar is well made and very famous for Balthazar. Good lists of wine and great service.
Fantastic brunch - scrambled eggs and avacado toast was absolutely pefect. I have gone back fro breakfast meetings there 5-6 times and the quality of food and service is always consistently high. At lunchtime there is much more of an atmosphere and its always busy. The fresh seafood is delicious, but have also tried a few dished on the A la Carte menu including the Seabass and the risotto. Nothing to fault. yet.
i went there twice. first time i try tge sphagetti with lobster is perfect so i went back again on a sunday , i had the mussel and when i eat my mouth was stuck with sand. i have to rush to toilet to clean up. my partner asks for sphagetthi with lobster and the lobster meat was much smaller than the first time i tried it shows the quality goes down . and when i complaint about the sand in the mussel. nothing was done, no sorry they even say next time it will not happen? will i still go next time? you can guess
Balthazar was great in New York, so I was impatiently waiting to try it in London. I can easily say that it was worth the wait! I had the Italian dish "nettle agnolotti" to start with. It is a type of pastry with smoked pancetta, pine nuts and lemon beurre noisette. I don't remember any other European dish that lemon is such a perfect ingredient for. My main course was Balthazar Bar Steak, and I preferred it with Bearnaise sauce. It was a big portion, cooked medium just as I wanted it (a bit pink inside), very soft and juicy. The frites were crispy and nice as well. The portions are very filling, but sharing a dessert is still a good idea: our choice was profiteroles. The hot chocolate sauce is poured on the dessert at your table. The sweet pieces are filled with vanilla ice cream instead of whipped cream. As a result it's so light, but still very tasty. Balthazar has a very central location and a nice decoration of the older times. It is crowded and noisy, but it gives the restaurant a vibe and atmosphere. This is a pricey place but it's definitely worth it.
Just like the New York restaurant, the decor was lovely and the service was pretty good. Unfortunately though, the food wasn't anywhere near as good as the one in NYC. My pancakes were dry, bland, and lukewarm, with hardly any banana. My brother's full English breakfast was great to look at, but again, tasteless. Finishing our meals was a real chore. I am SO disappointed as I adore the NYC restaurant and make a point of going there when in NYC, and I was so excited to try out the London one for the first time... : (
Breakfast on a Tuesday morning. Nice room, especially if you like faux-brasserie style. Very sad and rather mean-looking plate of scrambled eggs and salmon. Good orange juice. Luke warm coffee. Low-grade pastries presented as if they were some culinary marvel. Longish wait for food in spite of few patrons. Amateurish service of the "isn't this wonderful" variety. Far too expensive for what it was. Wouldn't return.
Really bad experience this lunchtime. Dirty table when we arrived, overpriced fruit de mare pasta dish which felt like it had been dragged through the dead sea- far to much salt for anyone's taste and to top it off - shell fragments in the dish. Not what you expect for the price. Great wine selection on the plus side. Will not be visiting again. Felt like a chain restaurant.
I had lunch with my wife at Balthazar a few days ago, and couldn't have been more satisfied. The decor and service were outstanding. The waitress and the entire staff were attentive, refilled our water promptly and were never intrusive. The meal was to die for, my wife and the Moules Frites and i ordered the Steak Frites. Both of these were the best versions either one of us has had outside of France, and most certainly in London. Do yourself a favor and do not skip dessert. We had the Cocolate orange pot and the cheesecake, and both my wife and I are craving them now. We can't wait to go back.
My partner and I dined at Balthazar a few weeks ago. We couldn’t wait to get there after reading all the hype and patiently waiting more than a month to get in. I will say this - I'll give it a star for the decor and service. I felt like we were in a beautiful brasserie in Paris and the waiters were terrific - very attentive and enthusiastic. I wish I could say the same about the management. My partner ordered the oysters which we think gave him a horrendous case of food poisoning (he said they didn’t taste quite right at the time). I'm not sure what is more disappointing - the fact that the restaurant’s overpriced food didn’t live up to the hype, or that when we emailed them privately to let them know he’d been sick, that they never bothered to respond. You'd think a new restaurant like this would actually care about its customers’ experiences. Seems not.
I have to say the decor and the service were absolutely 5 star. The food was a 3 and probably a 1 if you factor the cost into that. I had oysters and a steak. I got food poisoning from the oysters which I didn't think was possible until my girlfriend called to say she also had food poisoning that the doctors had told her was almost certainly shellfish related. Anyway for a main I had what I was told was the best steak on the menu. I can't remember exactly what it was called but the waiter recommended it. I got it rare. To be fair to them it wasn't awful but it really wasn't what I'd been expecting and i was so disappointed. I had really high hopes for this and was one of the first people ringing on the phone to get in there. I sincerely hope they get the food sorted as the rest of the restaurant is amazing. Obviously never going to get the Oysters again though!
Having dined at the NYC outposts (B and Pastis), my partner and I were very excited to try B i London. Firstly, the service we received was very good, from the initial phone call, to trying to modify the booking on the same day (was sadly, albeit understandably, not possible) to the lovely waiters. B in London is slightly darker than its NYC siblings, which I suppose is to create some type of romantic atmosphere, although it's a little too dusky for my taste. The tables are also slightly too close together which means you can't engage in more personal conversations but it's a brasserie at the end of the day so guess it comes with the concept. However, this was the biggest drawdown for me. Their steak tartar taste just like the ones they serve in NYC (hands down the best steak tartar I've had), one portion of fries was slightly overcooked but the second one was just right. Their USDA beef hit the spot but the escgargots weren't what I'd hoped they'd be. Their bread basket was lovely, especially the little baguette, which bodes well for future visits to their bakery next door. The wine list was comprehensive with prices ranging from ca £20 and up. We loved the look of the dessert menu and opted for the profiteroles which were delicious. We will definitely be back (but ask for a slightly more secluded - don't think there really are any - table next time). Service: ***** Food: **** Wine: ***** Ambiance: **
Below average. Lunch at 12:30 and food arrived one hour later. Manager apologized but did not seem sincere. Tables were too close, do not want to hear about escapades of someone's love life with a 12 year old in tow. For all the hype, disappointing. Good location but much better options in London.
Bad. Raw goat's cheese tart, pastry like concrete and then just liquid poured out all over the plate when cut into. Burgers - one nearly cremated, one nearly raw, one absolutely fine but cold. Chocolate souffle took so long to arrive we nearly had to leave, then when it did show up it looked the part but tasted of dry, eggy nothing and had a strange grainy texture. Constant topping up of water glasses after each sip really intrusive.
Went there for pre- theatre , no pre-theatre menu!! Very expensive, main course consisting of precisely three cold scallops, with a few leaves of mache, this was supposedly the Plat du Jour. The bread quite ordinary the wine by the glass horrendously priced. Far too many people wandering about trying to be friendly, it seems that they want to solve the youth unemployment problem in London!! It is frankly absurd to have a doorman for a brasserie!! Not good value for money at all!! This is the view of three others who dined with me.
Balthazar really is a delight. It looks great inside (and it's huge! - though don't let that put you off, they have plenty of staff so that wherever you sit, you have all the waiter attention you need) it tastes great and they have a terrific wine list. Food prices are good, wine a bit more expensive. Very classy atmosphere. Try the Lamb T-bone...
So so very disappointed. Cold fries, chewy tasteless bread, stringy chicken, pastry so hard it took a steak knife to cut it, rock hard over cooked profiteroles bordering on burnt. The assiette de fromages was lovely, but that's a long way down the menu to wait for something good. Service was fabulous at the table however, although there seemed to be more staff than diners despite a full restaurant and total confusion at the door. I'd like to think it was a one-off bad service/problem in the kitchen but I wouldn't be happy to risk it again at that price level.
I managed an early walk in last night, the staff couldn't have tried harder to find us a seat - gave over a table at the bar that could have sat four and never once did we feel hurried so they could turn the table - Rick Stein was drinking at the bar and the General Manger of the Ivy was just behind us, it is defiently the place to try now it has opened. I have had brunch at the NY one but i much prefer the building and buzz of the London one, i guess also because its now local!! Food was a comfort and well executed and i can't wait to go back!
I enjoyed a wonderful evening here.The service was very good! Top marks for all the bartenders and very pleased to see a female one who knew how to make the most perfect martini! I'll be back...but I do fear that it will be hard to get a seat! The staff that welcomed me at the door were more than helpful and said I could eat at the bar...this was a great first impression and it shows that they will try their best to get the customer a seat...food was great...I'll be back time after time.Outstanding!!!