Sake Gumi

I took a day off last week to hang out with a friend who was visiting from Tokyo. There's something really special about wandering around the city like a tourist when you're supposed to be working- you see NY in such a different light (it's called daylight-on-a-weekday light).

We were on our way to Chinatown for lunch, but plans were diverted (as plans often are in this city), when I saw a listing for Balthazar in her tour book. Balthazar! For lunch! GENIUS!!!

Balthazar is a fancy pants French bistro in Soho. High ceilings, nice long bar, mirrored walls, gold railings- it's a little bit of Paris in NYC, the kind of place where you just wish you could have a smoke mid-meal (although you couldn't do that in Paris now either- boo). It's pretty much still celebrity spotting central, even though it's been around since 1997. Hence, I never think to go to there-- it's always a deathly mob scene.

It was about 2pm, and we just sauntered in and were seated right away. That would never happen after work, or on the weekend. These sort of spontaneous moments could only happen when you are actually supposed to be working. Magical.

Balthazar's bread is top notch, they might just make the best baguette in the city. There's a cute boulangerie next door that you can get to through the restaurant for a loaf or a crossaint to take home.

Their butter was soft. I was sad.

Appetizers and Stella on tap: nothing like drinking when you are supposed to be working.

Beef tartare: I'm currently on the search for the city's best beef tartare. This one was quite good- great tang and crunch. I had it at Aquavit recently which was a real let down. Les Infant Terribles in the Lower East Side makes a good one too. High five to the person who thought to put raw beef with an egg, mix with capers and onions, and serve with toasted bread. Fucking genius.
Roasted beet salad with leeks, haricot verts (did you know that that's the French word for green beans?), walnuts, watercress and some blue cheese called fourme d'Ambert, which was excellent. The beets themselves were not great- I may not know my cheeses, but I can roast beets better myself.

Ok, here's what absolutely blew our minds- the roasted lamb sandwich. I've never been into lamb very much, but seriously, thanks to Balthazar, I have been converted.

Dude, the lamb was so tender, it was ridiculous. And there was this mustardy creamy stuff added that was just perfect. I can't emphasize this enough: GET THIS SANDWICH NOW!

Grilled zucchini, mmmm...

Maho said this was one of her favorite meals on her visit. I will agree and say that it was a pleasant surprise. All this- 2 beers, 2 appetizers, a sandwich, and 2 coffees came out to be $80 after tip. Pretty pricey, but nice for special occasions. Like playing hooky (do people still say that, or is it so Sweet Valley High?).

Lunch during the work week. Treat yourself- I mean, all these people are. So you should too.
80 Spring Street
Btwn B'way & Crosby Streets
T: 212-965-1414


  • omg i was there Wed too!!! just missed you.

    kayoko on

  • dre and i were there for breakfast last wed…what day were you there? bfast is great there and not so pricey. love it.

    erin on

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