Monday, November 5, 2012


Balthazar: French bistro, located in Soho, over-teeming with tourists, great bread. That's pretty much all the essentials about this popular brunch place. If you're not going during an obscure time on a weekday, chances are you will be stuck in line long before you are seated down in a cramped booth.

I know many New Yorkers who have never been to this place because it's not the most convenient location residentially or for parking and because there are always unrealistically long lines. Well, I am  now here to fill you in with the scoop.  

So what are the selling points of this place? Well, the ambiance is definitely worth the wait. If you’re itching to sit in a French bistro themed space, this one will make you feel right in Paris. The bread basket is solid, as are their coffee, brioche french toast, and the decadent duck shepherd's pie. 
The brioche french toast is the perfect solution for the ever controversial sweet vs. savory breakfast dilemma. Sugar powdered french toast with salty bacon, yum. But if you want something that's unquestionably savory and heavy French, don't hesitate to try the duck shepherd's pie, where ground beef is replaced with a rich sauce and slices of duck. The crisp top layer of mashed potatoes should convince you enough to try this dish at some point. It's also great for dipping with the bread basket. 
Oh, and how could I leave this bit out? We ordered a pain au chocolat to share after our meals were done, and it was a great way to end our meal. Flaky buttery pastry, rich chocolate filling. Mmm. 

Things that were okay and I would probably not order again: eggs Florentine and scrambled eggs in  puff pastry. The eggs Florentine were good, but they definitely did not stand out. $22 for 2 poached eggs on a light bed of spinach and artichoke? Beyond overpriced. Similarly, the overpriced eggs in puff pastry were mediocre. The pastry was on the dense, rather than flaky, side, making it an overall very heavy ordeal. 

Overall, it was great for brunch with my grandmother who adores bread , but I suppose the wait staff is accustomed to the high turnover of tables and therefore service is kind of skimped upon. When you're done with your meal, don't forget to head next door to the bakery for some goodies to take home! I always enjoy their brioches and chocolate chip cookies with an iced coffee. 

(Photo credit: James Eng)

Brioche french toast with smoked bacon

Eggs Florentine

Scrambled eggs in puff pastry

Duck shepherd's pie

Pain au chocolat

(Photo credit: James Eng)

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