Since it opened two years ago, Balthazar has become a firm favourite in Covent Garden. Its location is perfect for those visiting the Royal Opera House or the theatre and the restaurant’s dramatic flair emulates the character of the area. The décor seeks to recreate a French brasserie (mimicking its older sister in New York). As the doorman welcomes you in, you cannot fail to be impressed by the magnificent room with its double height ceiling, black and white mosaic floor and deep red leather banquettes.
Do have a drink at the well-stocked bar where the friendly bar staff will mix you one of their many cocktails – a perfect vantage spot to see if you can spy a celebrity or two!
The oversized distressed mirrors reflect the lighting and cast a warm glow over the diners – creating an intimacy that belies the size of the room. With jazz playing in the background, the hum of chatter and the bustle of the apron clad waiters, you could almost be in Paris.
The food is classic bistro/brasserie fare but with plenty of choice. We started with juicy Fines de Claire oysters that were full of flavour rendering the accompanying condiments redundant and escargots bathed in wonderful garlicky butter. I recommend that you try the roasted stone bass served with artichoke puree and smoked aubergine and fennel –a great combination of flavours. We also enjoyed the deftly prepared steak frites, Dover sole meuniere and on previous visits the duck shepherd’s pie.
Service is efficient and the obliging restaurant manager Dominik Powroznik helped my son identify the crustaceans on the raw bar as well as selecting a Chardonnay reserve and a well-rounded Corbieres for us.
We left space for dessert and dived into a raspberry soufflé and had a spoon fight over the warm chocolate fondant. A large part of Balthazar’s appeal is that you can go at any time of day – for a coffee, a snack, a drink or a meal. We sat next to a glamorous lady of a certain age dining alone on one side and a young couple on what looked like a first date on the other. It is also a fun place to bring children who can choose from their own menu or from the “grown up” one and I have brought my son here a few times after a visit to the theatre. I recommend Balthazar for a romantic rendezvous, pre or post theatre/opera drinks or dinner or for a lively night out with friends. Great buzz, lovely bar and good food.
4-6 Russell Street, London WC2B 5HB
+44 (0)20 3301 1155
Nuzy Sayani is Catwalkschoolgates’ restaurant reviewer. Nuzy lives in Marylebone with her husband and seven year old son. She is a technology lawyer and loves the theatre, cinema, is an avid reader and likes nothing more than trying out restaurants. Nuzy will be sharing her dining experiences with us and would love to hear from you with your recommendations.