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Balthazar, Soho

80 Spring Street
New York City , New York
Tel: 212 965 1785's insider take:

Balthazar reinvented the downtown hot spot when it opened in the late '90s, and it's already a New York classic. Impresario Keith McNally, still the reigning king of effortless restaurant cool, did such a fine job cloning a Beaux Arts Paris brasserie that Balthazar felt decades old the minute it opened. The spacious restaurant, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week, still gets its share of high-wattage diners like Kate Moss and Jude Law. Over the years, the straightforward, often delicious, bistro fare has remained as consistent as the crowds. The gargantuan shellfish platters are a dazzling indulgence, particularly with a bottle of chilled Muscadet. The steak tartare, zingy with mustard and capers, is among the best in town, as is the grill-marked steak with silky béarnaise and slim, greaseless frites. Though you'll no longer need a secret phone number to secure a table for dinner, you'll still probably want to book well in advance. The attached bakery offers top-notch French pastries and sandwiches to eat on the run.

Open Mondays through Thursdays 7:30 to 11:30 am, noon to 5 pm, and 5:45 pm to 1 am, Fridays 7:30 to 11:30 am, noon to 5 pm, and 5:45 pm to 2 am, Saturdays 8 am to 4 pm and 5:45 pm to 2 am, and Sundays 8 am to 4 pm and 5:30 pm to midnight.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.