Posted by: Hungry Korean | May 27, 2011

Balthazar

Chicken’s mom was in town for a couple days visiting from California.  When she visits, she usually takes Chicken’s friends out for a big group dinner and she was so sweet and generous to take us out again on this visit. We went to Balthazar and pretty much ate and drank our faces off.

I love the inside of Balthazar – it’s gilded in warm light and sparkling gold accented against dark woods and smokey mirrors – it’s a very Parisian feel. It’s perpetually bustling and overpacked with diners and tourists but the food is a constant – constantly delicious.

We started with Le Balthazar – the largest seafood tower they have:

Pretty ridiculous no? As you get higher up the tower, the more expensive the seafood is. The bottom level is raw oysters and littleneck clams. The second level is king crab legs, shrimp cocktail and mussels. The top tower holds the tail and claw meat of the lobsters. It’s pretty insane and everything is exceedingly fresh.

A friend of mine also got the appetizer of chicken liver and foie gras mousse served with some grilled country bread and red onion confit:

I am totally going back for this and sitting at the crowded bar to get my fix if I have to! The mousse was impossibly rich and silky smooth. Although the menu claims there is chicken liver mixed in with foie gras, the little mound of joy tasted like 100% decadent foie gras. It was ridiculously delicious. If you are a lover of foie gras, you must come to Balthazar and get this.

For main, I had the branzino with roasted fennel and celery in a romesco sauce.

This plate actually appears on the menu as wild striped bass but they were out of striped bass and replaced with branzino.  The meat of the fish was firm and moist and cooked with a crispy skin. The roasted fennel was cooked to bring the sweetness of the vegetable out and the celery and fennel fronds added a nice herbaciousness to the plate. It was a simple and light plate.

Several people at the table got the skate with mushrooms and zucchini in a bordelais sauce and it was even better than my branzino, in my opinion:

That skate was cooked so that it was crispy and golden on the outside and moist on the inside. The dark sauce was bold and had an intense flavor of reduced wine and it rounded out the flavors of the fish which held up well against it. I was particularly fond of that mixture of mushroom and cubed zucchini.

Desserts (of the people sitting on either side of me since I sampled both):

Apple tart tartin with creme anglaise and vanilla ice cream: flaky buttery bottom, sweet but tart cooked apples mellowed by the creme anglaise and ice cream…pretty yummy

and the warm chocolate cake with warm chocolate ice cream: yes it is as rich and chocolatey as it sounds and looks

We were all buzzed on the company and the wine and full from the food. It was really so sweet of her mom to take us to this delicious meal.  Had a great time and I can’t wait to come back for that foie gras appetizer!

Balthazar, 80 Spring Street, New York, NY

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