Last night my husband took me out for my birthday dinner to Balthazar, which has become an annual tradition for us. As a chowhound who lacks snobbery and just searches for really good food, I sometimes feel a little sheepish about going to Balthazar again and again when there are so many terrific new places that I have yet to try (we don't get out as much as we used to). Not to mention the fact that it's a little touristy and I'd guess about the day before yesterday in terms of trendiness (not that trendy ever enters into the equation for me, but still.)
But God I love Blathazar. I love the ambience, the din of voices and clattering silverware, the lighting (I just celebrated my 40th, so good lighting becomes more and more significant with every birthday), I even love the annoying Eurotrash in the bar area or at least I love to find them annoying. But mostly I love the food. It is consistently good. From the bread to the Balthazar Salad (the salad that made me a truffle junkie), to the oysters, to the Steak Frites (I shouldn't, but dammit, it's my birthday!) to everything else I've tried on the menu. And the breakfasts are terrific, too. I've lived in NYC for almost 8 years and I've probably been to Balthazar at least 30 times and yet when I leave, I'm always thinking about when I can come back. The only thing that can occasionally be off is the service. I've had some really crappy servers with tremendous attitudes, but most of the time I've had terrific ones. If I could change one thing it would be to get rid of the bathroom attendant. I have a real chip on my shoulder about having to give someone a buck for handing me a paper towel, not to mention the fact that having someone stand there while you pee is worse than someone reading over your shoulder in the subway. But I digress. I can put up with the attendant for the food, for the ambiance and for reminding me everytime I go why I love being a New Yorker. How corny is that?