Dress for Dinner
by Julie Besonen, 08/17/2011
Balthazar. Photo: Alex Lopez
80 Spring St., 212-965-1785, SoHo, Manhattan
Balthazar is a consistently renewable energy source, attracting waves of the City's elite, glamorous foreigners and a runway of celebrities since 1997. The Parisian-style brasserie, convenient to SoHo's boutiques, is charged with adrenaline no matter what time you go, but it's more low-key at breakfast and certainly simpler to get a table. At lunch, things switch into high gear, when you might spot anyone from Emma Roberts to Christiane Amanpour taking meetings or just relaxing over salade Niçoise. Dinner is always a spirited affair (Is that Kristen Wiig? Yes, indeed!), aided by potent cocktails and a Gallic wine list that offers genuine bargains. It's hard to go wrong on the menu, but duck shepherd's pie, grilled brook trout and steak frites never fail to please (especially the frites part). Can't get a table? Fight for a seat at the bar and you'll have a blast.