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Jan 19, 2008 05:47 PM

Balthazar -- what was i thinking??

Okay, so I've gone to balthazar since back when it was actually cool. what happened to this place?! i went there for dinner tonight after not having been there in forever just because. while the food was still solid the scene was horrendous. all the tables there are right on top of eachother, crammed up next to me on one side were two people who actually joined hands and prayed when their meal arrived and on the other were some yokels who ordered escargot just to look at them and go "ewwwwwwwwww". (i later saw when they were taking their money out to pay that they were from kansas - go figure). i felt like i was in times sq. while the food was still fine, the scene was what i would expect if i went to that "heartland brewery" place i've seen popping up in touristy places. i will never go back here again.

on another note, anyone got any reccomendations for where i can go for the same food without the tourist zoo? is odeon in tribeca pretty much the same (never been there before) i have my collection of cheaper neighborhood bistros (i.e. 30 bucks or so for dinner), but don't know anything that's like one step up.

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  1. The food at Odeon is different. Probably not as good, but still good. The scene and attitude of the staff are both surprisingly pleasant at Odeon. Balthazar is definitely a big destination for tourists these days.

    1. Pastis maybe? Although it's been a while, so maybe they're getting some tourist types too. I've never thought Balthazar was good (though I love the bakery) but I've always thought Pastis was much better.

      1 Reply
      1. re: sugartoof

        I've actually always had the opposite experience and think that Balthazar is much better, and worth the slightly higher prices.

      2. I tried to go there for breakfast/brunch on New Year's Day. But they had special hours that weren't posted on the website, and, it was raining. So we were faced with the choice of getting soaked for 45 minutes waiting for them to open or finding some place else. We chose the latter.

        1. don't go on weekends - stick to weekday breakfasts and lunch, still same old days kinda crowd and MUCH less riff raff

          but I felt like you the last time I ate at Les Halles - it was awful

          1 Reply
          1. re: jpmcd

            Yes - or a later lunch on the weekend isn't so bad either - 2:30 or 3pm. I sort of zone out on the crowd and enjoy the food and my husband's company, but my husband agrees w/ the Times Square description of the OP at various times.

          2. It's not just tourists. Last time I had dinner there, maybe two years ago now, there was a table of 8 young men who started off in jackets and ties and many cocktails and "whoohas" later (but not very long in time), were down to sleeves rolled up and shirts almost completely unbuttoned comparing workout results. They were so obnoxious and the noise was so bad, the maitre d', without my even mentioning it, offered to comp my next dinner there, an offer I accepted hesitantly since I wasn't at all sure I wanted to return.

            Have you tried Gascogne? A different kind of bistro, but probably my favorite in the city.

            1 Reply
            1. re: JoanN

              Balthazar's glory days are long gone. Total tourist zoo these days...its the hard rock cafe with decent bread.