Monday, 11 March 2013

Balthazar London finally opens its doors

Keith McNally. Copyright Eric Ray Davidson

Balthazar London, a sister site to Keith McNally’s buzzing New York brasserie, has finally opened in Covent Garden after years of planning. The Drinks Business reports that the restaurant opened at the end of last month in the Flower Cellars building in the old Theatre Museum next to Covent Garden Piazza, used as a storage space for Covent Garden’s flower sellers in the late 19th century.

Filled with antique furniture sourced by McNally, Balthazar London offers all-day dining, with signature dish steak frites with béarnaise sauce making it across the pond. In addition is an abundance of fruits de mer and classic bistro dishes such as French onion soup, foie gras terrine, steak tartare and moules frites. Like the New York flagship, Balthazar London boasts a boulangerie next door offering freshly baked breads, homemade pastries, salads and sandwiches to go.
Signature dish steak frites

The original Balthazar opened in downtown New York in 1997 and quickly became a destination bistro frequented by the likes of director Woody Allen and novelist Jay McInerney. The idea for Balthazar London came about in 2011 when restaurant giant Richard Caring, owner of The Ivy, J and Scott’s, approached McNally after securing the Theatre Museum site.

McNally’s main aim for Balthazar is to create somewhere with a sense of excitement mirroring the electric atmosphere of his New York original. Rather than overseeing the site remotely, McNally will be actively involved in Balthazar London’s evolution and has no plans to expand further at this point.

The Bethnal Green-born father of five’s first venture, The Odeon, opened in the Tribeca district in 1980. According to Vanity Fair, it defined the hedonism of New York in the ‘80s, and was frequented by the likes of Andy Warhol and David Bowie. In 1986, McNally opened his first club, Nell’s, on West 14th Street, a regular haunt of Patrick Bateman in the Bret Easton Ellis novel American Psycho.

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