Balthazar isn’t just a restaurant. It’s a legend.
For certain people, the place has its own mythology - origin stories of how the modern French bistro came to exist and tales of a simpler time, when media executives had 24/7 black car service, and relevancy. Most of those people tend to be old-school food writers and people who have lived in Soho for no less than twenty years, but we get it. This restaurant has an important place in this city’s dining history.
The good news, however, is that you do not need to “get it” to enjoy a meal at Balthazar. You just need to be the kind of person who appreciates a good escargot, a mouthful of frites, and a bottle of wine that would certainly cost less elsewhere.
Aside from lore, a meal at Balthazar comes with immutable truths. It will be expensive. It will be crowded, no matter when you visit. The crowd will be a mix of tourists, locals, and more tourists. The service will be friendly but somewhat disinterested - maybe because of all the tourists. But by no means is this just a tourist attraction. Balthazar is still the best French bistro in town, and one of New York City’s most reliable restaurants. It’s Perfect For nearly everything, from breakfast with a client, to brunch with friends, to 5pm with your kids in tow. We also love it for a late-night meal - especially the kind that’s meant to serve as redemption for the first dinner of the night that left everyone disappointed.
Regardless of why you’re there, Balthazar is the kind of place that will ideally give you some stories of your own. We all need a little bit of mythology in our lives. That, and a huge pile of frites.
Probably the best French onion soup in the city. Definitely the best French onion soup in the city.
About as good as a plate of snails gets. Just don’t plan to speak to anybody for a few hours after you eat them, as you will be breathing garlic-snail fire.
Eat this. Be thankful that whatever good things you did in a previous life brought you here.
The steak is pretty good. The fries are phenomenal. The net result is that you should order this. Get a side of mustard for the frites. Trust me.
A pot of bivalves in a classic Marinière sauce, full of garlic and white wine and white pepper and all of the other excellent French flavors. We’re the type to urge you to be careful ordering mussels in a restaurant, but here you can proceed with impunity.
Even if you don’t get down with steak or mussels, for god’s sake get some frites for the table.
This is one of those failproof plates of food that will satisfy almost anyone, except your really annoying friend who “doesn’t order chicken in a restaurant.” Order chicken in this restaurant.
Yes, this bread basket costs more than twenty dollars. Eat the monkey bread and tell us it isn’t worth it.
Two slices of of smoked bacon sitting atop a perfect serving size of French toast. Start your morning or early afternoon or whenever you got up with this.
A very good hollandaise, perfectly poached eggs, finished off with a nap in the taxi back to your apartment.