Balthazar is reputed to be the essential Manhattan brunch experience for anyone, locals or tourists. If you want to stay away from the tourist crowd though, go really early even if it means waking up early on a Sunday morning. We were told that local New Yorkers go to Balthazar for breakfast and brunch early in the day. Later in the morning is when more groups of tourists come in. If you get lucky, you might spot a celebrity or two at Balthazar. Unfortunately, we did not get lucky that day.

One of the classics of Balthazar is the huge bowl of cafe au lait. How could it not be fun holding up my bowl with two hands and sipping my cafe au lait?

We made early reservations for breakfast at 9am (they open at 7:30am). Yes, we wanted to blend in with the locals but as much as we also wanted to sleep in a little more on a Sunday morning, we had to catch our flight back to Chicago in those next few hours. Advance reservations are strongly recommended. We saw a continuous stream of tables getting filled in no time from the moment we got seated.

Balthazar offers a little Parisian atmosphere right in the heart of Soho in New York City. Everything about Balthazar screams classic from the decor to the mismatched wooden chairs and red vinyl booth seating. Space between tables are so tight that you really think this could be Paris.

The presentation of T's scrambled eggs puff pastry made me first wished I had ordered it when it was served at the table. I did have a taste of T's dish and we both loved that the puff pastry was very buttery in taste. Nothing beats the taste of fresh quality butter in a pastry. The pastry was flaky but not too light. The texture was hearty and thick enough for its petite breakfast size. I was very impressed with my Eggs Bella Donna that it made me stop wishing that I had ordered the scrambled eggs puff pastry instead. The pancetta was sliced very thinly and it was pan fried until delicately crispy, yet there was no hint of burnt sides at all. In fact, just by looking at the pancetta that sat atop the poached eggs, one would have thought that based on the color of the pancetta it was unfried and that biting into the piece of meat would feel like one was biting into soft fat. However, looks were deceiving. The pancetta was so delicately crispy, it didn't even feel like I was eating any fat at all.

For a piece of Parisian atmosphere, Balthazar offers this best in the heart of New York City.

80 Spring Street
New York, NY 10012

2012 James Beard Nominee for Outstanding Restaurant
2004 New York Magazine Best Late-Night Dining
2002 New York Magazine Best French Pastries

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