BY STEPHANIE HARRISON
Hungry couldn’t have described how I felt. With a no-breakfast morning to begin with and noon rolling around, my stomach was half way done eating itself. I arrived at Balthazar having no expectations of how the nourriture – that’s food in French – would be like. This French inspired restaurant is staffed with the most polite hosts in New York City. Their smiling faces and light voices convinced my cousin and I that a 40-minute wait for lunch was worth it. Good thing we had no obligations for the rest of the day. Our entire lunch lasted about two and a half hours, including the pre-lunch cocktail and wait, the meal and conversation, and the dessert that HAD to be ordered although we were stuffed to the bone. This gorgeous eatery was crowded during our entire meal – from businessmen and women to young couples, Balthazar is the place to be on a Friday afternoon if you have a half-day off!
With two Johnny Walker Black and Cokes guzzled, we were finally seated at a booth served by a French waiter (or at least he had the accent, we will deem him Jacques). After careful deliberation, I decided on the Duck Confit with crispy potatoes, wild mushrooms, and frisée salad, and my cousin choose the Moules Frites (the best $21 mussels I’ve ever had with skinny fries on the side served with a mayonnaise-based sauce – aioli perhaps?). To accompany our meals, we were recommended with two beers, Chimay (darker, more bitter) and Duvel (more hoppy, light body).
Sir Jacques made rounds to our table at a comfortable pace, not too smothering. The service was exceptional. Normally, when I acknowledge that my jeans are getting a bit too snug, that means I’ve had enough. Not that day. We topped off our delicious entrees with the infamous Crème Brûlée. Not too sweet, sugar perfectly browned, Balthazar offered a superb lunch spot for those who have more than 20 minutes to inhale their food.
They also offered their recipes for sale in a book entitled, The Balthazar Cookbook. If you can’t afford the dish, then try cooking it yourself!