Thursday, June 28, 2012

Balthazar Restaurant & Bakery: French Brasserie and Boulangerie in Soho

Braised Pork Belly. (photos: TheHopefulTraveler)
Balthazar entrance on Spring Street in Soho.
Reservations are recommended but it doesn't hurt to inquire on the wait
if you don't have one. (photos: TheHopefulTraveler)
Ever since I learned of the pleasures of visiting Soho, I've always noticed the restaurant called Balthazar on Spring Street. Just a peek through the windows, the place looks like an authentic French brasserie in Paris. But one also notices the crowds packing the place so I've always thought that a reservation was necessary.

After doing some shopping in Soho this morning I noticed it was a few minutes past 12 noon and I thought why not ask if I could get a table without a reservation. The restaurant was just beginning to fill and the host was able to accommodate me at a table near the bar and by the window.

I love bacon and seeing a braised Pork Belly special ($28) on the menu I knew that would be the main reason for my visit here. Seeing the two thick slices of crisp Berkshire pork belly plated with creamy grits, oeuf meurette (poached egg), sliced roasted mushrooms and topped with fresh mache lettuce in a red wine sauce and I couldn't wait to take my first bite. Braised pork belly if not prepared correctly will have portions that are tough or chewy. Not this one. The meat is crispy on one side and succulent and fatty on the other. With the grits and sauce, the pork belly takes on a sweet and salty flavor.

For some reason the morning of walking had gotten to me so sadly I passed on trying other dishes. The restaurant is noisy and the tables are packed closely so privacy is not an option here. But service was efficient and pleasant. But one cannot deny the gorgeous surroundings of dining here. Balthazar opened in 1997 and is owned by celebrity chef Keith McNally.

Visit for more information. Located in Soho, New York City at 80 Spring Street. Hours: Breakfast Mon-Fri 7:30am-11:30am, Sat & Sun 8:00am-9:00am; Brunch Sat & Sun 9:00am-4:00pm; Lunch & Late Lunch Mon-Fri 12:00pm-5:00pm; Dinner and After Hours Mon-Thu 6:00pm-12:00am, Fri & Sat 6:00pm-1:00am, Sun 5:30pm-12:00am. Click HERE to view the menus.

If you can't get a table. Head next door to the on below.

Balthazar interior.
One of the small tables alongside the restaurant's bar.
Bakery entrance located next door to the restaurant.
(photos: TheHopefulTraveler)
Almond Croissant
A fancy word for bakery, Balthazar's Boulangerie satisfies if you can't get a table at the next door restaurant or in need of something simple and fast to eat. Probably my favorite thing here are the Almond Croissants ($3.25). They can be eaten fresh from the bakery or saved for later. Each one is topped toasted almonds and frangipan (almond cream). Hungry visitors can choose from a selection of daily specials, sandwiches, deserts and an array of fresh-baked breads. Click HERE for the take-out and delivery menu. The bakery is a small space so don't be surprised if a tightly curving line greets you upon entry. So don't dawdle. Decide what you want and order.

Pick-up a take-out/delivery menu at the bakery or view it online.


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