Balthazar, at any hour of the day, is a restaurant nonchalantly but unmistakably satisfied with itself, this characteristic one of the many ways the venue is faithful to its French brasserie roots. As is the case anywhere in the Keith McNally empire, those who can get over the attitude and, for some eaters, long waits will find themselves thoroughly sated. There is a strong emphasis on atmosphere here, but the quality of the basic French fare is quite good as well. So good, in fact, that since it opened on Spring Street in Soho in 1997, the Balth has been McNally's, and New York's, unofficial flagship brasserie.
Use regularly for breakfast, through late supper, certainly for brunch and dinner; good alone, for a date, or with friends. The raw bar and bistro staples are first-rate; ditto for brunch offerings like eggs benedict and chefs Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson's crepe du jour. Seating is first-come-first-served in the bar area and by reservation in the main dining room. Primetime walk-ins will wait at least 45 minutes.
A reference to King Balthazar, the last of Babylon, the word "Balthazar" is both the technical name for a huge bottle of champagne equivalent to 16 regular-sized bottles and a magnificent feast. Your meals at The Balth will be so informed, whether they are impromptu or long on the books.
[Eater 38 photos by Eater photog Noah Kalina.]