On Monday I had a day off from mothering and headed into town to get my feed on. Having been a while since I’ve been able to dine out in town without having to worry about how buggy-friendly a place is I thought I’d head somewhere I’d really wanted to try for a while. Given the abundance of places on offer in Central London, I chose to head to Balthazar. Having opened a few months back in Covent Garden, quite a fuss had been made about this New York landmark brunch destination coming to the UK. Because of this I was eager to try it out…
The interior of Balthazar is indeed impressive. You’d struggle to believe it’s only been there for a few months as they’re working the ‘distressed look’ very well. The French brasserie influence feels quite authentic and the overall atmosphere is nice and relaxed. I arrived half an hour early for meeting my friend and hoped that would mean we could get a table if I waited. Unfortunately it was approximately 1hr’s wait for a table in the main restaurant area so instead we sat in a booth overlooking the bar area. I felt we certainly didn’t loose anything from the experience being sat where we were, especially as there was only about 10ft between us and the restaurant diners.
Despite being famed for brunch classics such as Eggs Benedict and Eggs Royale, and the US contribution of pancakes and waffles, I needed something a bit more substantial than brunch and studied the entrees selection. Ranging from £13 up to £37 the menu had a lot of attractive looking options, all with a strong French brasserie theme still – although the addition of a ‘Sunday Roast’ seemed to confuse matters I thought personally.
I opted for Steak Frites with bearnaise sauce, whilst my friend ordered the Spaghetti with Lobster. We both ordered a glass of wine with our meals, and had some bread to start. Having not had a decent steak since being early on in pregnancy, as I was stuck with always having to order them well done, I dived in with requesting my steak ‘medium rare’. Sadly what I got was a steak that had been left on the grill long enough that it was actually well done through at least 85% of it. This was accompanied by a portion of fries that could have fed 3 people – and it’s a very rare thing for me to complain about having too much food! My friend’s spaghetti however looked somewhat less generous in terms of the lobster included.
Dessert perked things up a bit as we tucked into a delicious Tarte Tatin with butterscotch sauce and ice cream, followed by a cup of tea.
Spirits very quickly dipped again however as the bill arrived and we discovered our lunch was setting us back £50 per head. Had this been a staggeringly good meal I would have felt less upset about the bill, but in reality it wasn’t. It was ‘ok’, but there was hardly anything outstanding about it. Call me crazy but for £50 for lunch I have come to expect something in the region of outstanding, given you could get a lot more/better for less nearby.
I’m glad I went to see it, but I doubt I’ll be hurrying back anytime soon.
Balthazar is located on Russell Street in Covent Garden, London.