SoHo’s Balthazar Is Perfection From Start to Finish


Balthazar features a diverse and delicious menu. (Courtesy of Alexandra Lange/ The Fordham Ram)

If you live in New York City, you’ve likely heard of the SoHo institution Balthazar. Since its opening in 1997, the restaurant has consistently been ranked as one of New York’s finest eateries for every meal: breakfast, lunch, dinner and even dessert. Frequented by celebrities and top chefs alike, Balthazar exudes an air of exclusiveness and glamour. Its Old World opulence, paired with a touch of French romanticism, enhances the posh vibe and gives the restaurant a distinct European charm.

As soon as I stepped off the SoHo streets and into the charming dining room, I was transported to a Parisian cafe with distressed gold wallpaper, Art Deco and red leather booths with brass accents. With mirrors on nearly every wall, golden light bounced throughout the space and magnified the retro beauty. The bustling, noisy atmosphere also matched the energy I would expect from a popular European dining hotspot.

Seemingly every table and booth were filled by stylish New Yorkers and eager tourists discussing amongst themselves during the brunch hour. Luckily, my friends and I came prepared with a reservation, which we were surprisingly able to secure just a few days before. Overhearing the hostess disappoint hungry customers without reservations by telling them the wait was at least 90 minutes, I was extremely thankful we had planned ahead. However, if you are unable to obtain a reservation, don’t worry. Situated in the heart of SoHo’s upscale shopping district, there is no shortage of ways to spend your time anxiously awaiting your delicious Parisian meal at Balthazar.

Whether you are seated immediately with a reservation or spend your afternoon awaiting an open table, you are sure to be impressed by Balthazar’s diverse brunch menu. With egg specials like the ratatouille omelette, classic fish options like trout and salmon and sweet breakfast treats like French toast and waffles,; Balthazar has something for you no matter your taste preferences.

Personally, I love anything sweet, so I was tempted by the brioche French toast, sour cream hazelnut waffles and apple cinnamon pancakes. After much stressful debate, I finally decided on the waffles. I’d never heard of hazelnut waffles and was intrigued by the warm berry compote on the side, so I was excited to try a new dish.

A few minutes after we ordered, the waiter brought over a large basket with a variety of warm bread. Since Balthazar  is renowned for having the best bread in New York, I hoped I would be able to sample it and was eager to put the bread to the test when it arrived at the table. At first bite, I was immediately impressed by the crunchy, thick, dark crust of the ciabatta and the tangy yet slightly sweet sourdough. While nibbling on the bread from the basket, I had become so impressed with the splendor of the appetizer that I temporarily forgot about my actual meal that was on the way.

However, I was quickly reminded when my colorful plate of waffles and mixed berries arrived as we finished up the breadbasket. I couldn’t help but take a picture of the sugar-coated waffles and the sea of pink berry compote that sat beneath them. I generously doused the waffles with maple syrup and finally dug in. As I  dipped into the warm berry mixture for the first time, my taste buds were mesmerized by the flavor combination. The waffles featured a hint of nuttiness perfectly complemented by the sweet, flavorful berry compote. Texture-wise, the waffles were impeccably cooked with a crunchy, sugar-coated outside and a light, fluffy inside. I truly did not want the meal to end. However, I had to save room for Balthazar’s lengthy dessert menu.

With its roots in the bakery business, the eatery has long been known for its unbeatable selection of baked goods and pastries, so I was even more excited for dessert than my actual meal. With classic French delicacies like pavlova, profiteroles and creme brûlée, it seemed impossible to choose just one dessert to end my Balthazar experience. However, I finally decided to sample the classic French dish profiteroles.

When the waiter brought over my order, I was a bit confused at first. From the pictures I had seen online, the profiteroles were covered in a thick chocolate sauce, yet mine were plain. My confusion didn’t last long, though, as the waiter came equipped with a pitcher full of chocolate ganache and drenched the mini ice cream sandwiches. I knew the dessert was going to be amazing as soon as my fork dug into the flaky puff pastry. This slightly sweet dough sandwiched a scoop of creamy, buttery vanilla ice cream.

Even if the waiter hadn’t generously topped the profiteroles with chocolate syrup, I would have been impressed. But the addition of this cocoa topping put the dish on another level. The syrup was extremely rich and chocolatey and was truly the perfect addition to the less sweet puff pastry. Although they were filling, I can undoubtedly say that these profiteroles were one of the best desserts I have ever tasted.

From the moment I walked through the golden brass door and into Balthazar’s glamorous, airy dining room, I felt like a celebrity. With customers dressed to the nines, white tablecloths and extremely attentive waiters, Balthazar gave me a brunch experience I will never forget. The glitzy, Parisian vibe and vintage decor only added to the luxury of the meal and were the perfect backdrop to the actual tasting options. From the hearty selection of bread as an appetizer, unique flavor combination of the sweet waffle main course and the unbeatable French dessert options, Balthazar impressed me more with every bite I took.

I now know what New Yorkers are talking about when they regard Balthazar as one of the finest dining experiences in the city. Balthazar is iconic for a reason. It is perfection from start to finish.