First Impression: Pirate ship. Maritime. French riviera. Wine country. These are what I thought of when I walked into Balthazar which, on this night, was packed. I mean, loaded with people. 45 minute wait. Standing shoulder to shoulder at the bar getting cozy with the other people waiting for seats. But you know what? We didn’t care. It would be worth it.
As we waited, I looked around. Warm, flattering lighting and enormous tarnished silver mirrors hung on every gigantic wall. Pillars supported the ceiling and separated sections of the restaurant. Half naked women held up the ceiling behind the bar surrounded by hundreds of bottles of red wine. They even looked like they belonged on the front of a ship, worn from salty sea-spray.
Sooner than we expected, we sat across from each other at a small table.
Little side note: My boyfriends a big guy, so he always sits in the booth side, which is always pointing out at all the people-watching opportunities. I always sit in the chair, because I’m tiny, and therefore can only look at his handsome face. He alerts me to strange things happening behind me and me, being not so subtle, have to look over my shoulder when he tells me too. It’s always a good time.
Round One: I decide on Warm Goat Cheese and Caramelized Onion Tart and he chose Saffron Risotto with ruby red shrimp and chorizo. I will eat anything with goat cheese in it and, likewise, he always orders anything risotto. I won this round. My goat cheese tart was warm and creamy with slightly crunchy onions underneath and sour, sundries tomatoes to eat along with it. The saffron risotto was good as well, but I would have liked more chorizo in it, more of a kick.
Round Two: I went with the Grilled Dorade with green cabbage, heirloom apples, roasted chestnuts and apple cider-pommery mustard beurre blanc. Besides looking beautiful, it was very satisfying. Warm and tangy, the sauce went great with the apples and the cabbage. The fish was cooked and seasoned well, except the skin was not crispy. I rarely eat the skin of any animal, but if it’s soggy and slimy, I absolutely won’t. I’m not one to send back food, and it was too delicious to stop eating anyway, so I just pushed the skin aside.
D chose the Pan-Roasted Chicken with wild mushrooms, crisp spaetzle, beet greens and Riesling jus. He didn’t know what spaetzle was and laughed every time he heard the word. I explained what it was, but when it came out, it wasn’t how I remembered it. He even asked the waiter “Is it supposed to be this dry?” The waiter was confounded but D explained that he just wanted to know, he never had it before.
The chicken was fantastic and, unlike mine, the skin was crispy and delicious. The jus, which pooled in the bottom, was great to dip the spaetzle and chicken in. In the end, the dish left the table with the majority of the spaetzle in amongst the chicken bones. Round Two also goes to me.
Round Three: Desert and I have a long and complicated relationship. Sometimes I like it hot, sometimes cold. Sometimes heavy, sometimes light. Citrus or vanilla. Creamy or crunchy. Tonight, I wanted light and citrusy, so I ordered the Pavlova with warm seasonal berries. It was so pretty, I didn’t want to eat it. It was crunchy but melted in my mouth. The inside was chewy like a thick marshmallow and the berries were macerated perfectly. A great end to a meal.
D got, as usual, something chocolaty. I happen to be allergic to chocolate, so this is a strategic move on his part so as not to share any with me. He ordered the Profiteroles with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. By the look on his face, I think we tied this round.
Over all, a very memorable meal and not just because of the food. We talked, laughed, and shared the entire time. It surely one for the memory banks. I of course took a postcard from them, which is now hanging on my wall.
Please follow my blog for more restaurant reviews, and read this intro to my restaurant series where I explain the significance of business cards from restaurants and the sharing of food. Thanks for reading! Come again.