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Jun 11, 2009 10:25 AM

Need advice about service at Balthazar


I am a notoriously worrisome planner, and I need a bit of advice. I am taking the boyfriend out to a casual dinner in a couple weeks on a Friday night as a ruse for his surprise party, which starts at 10pm. I have 8pm reservations at Balthazar, and the party is in the UES (74th and Lex). I need to bring the birthday boy in after 10. I know the train from Soho to UES will take about 30 minutes, leaving 1.5 hours to eat at that enough time for 2 to eat, with reservations, on a Friday night? Reviews say conflicting things - that because Balthazar is always so packed, service is either overly attentive (i.e., rushed) or really slow. I was hoping some of you had some insight...I was planning on getting to Balthazar around 7:30/7:45 to grab a drink at the bar while they get our table ready; we will surely order an appetizer, entree and have been assured a birthday dessert. We probably won't linger too long after eating. Are they good about being timely with reservations and service?

I was worried about whether 1.5 hours would be enough, even with reservations, so I made an alternate reservation at 8:30 just in case at L'Absinthe - about a 10 minute walk from the party. Again, is 1.5 hours enough time for 2 to eat an appetizer, entree and dessert? I've never eaten at either place so I'm not sure how prompt the service is!

Thanks so much!

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  1. Never been to L'Absinthe, but 1.5 hours for a normal meal at Balthazar is about right- maybe less. They have been pretty on top of things the bazillion times I have been there. You'll be fine.

    1 Reply
    1. Also, if someone has eaten at both, which is better? I'm not too concerned with the noisiness/crampedness of Balthazar or romantic ambiance - I'm more concerned with tasty food. Balthazar seems just a smidge cheaper, but again, that's not really a huge dealbreaker either. Thanks!

      1 Reply
      1. re: happymeals

        I've eaten at both. While L'Absinthe is more attractive and refined, I love the simplicity and comfort of Balth. The staff is very friendly and I don't feel strange if I have to ask for something.

      2. I would just excuse myself and then have a quick private chat with the server. I'm sure they'd be delighted to turn the table over in 1.5 hours!