Balthazar

 
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Paris comes to London via Manhattan
Nearly 16 years after Keith McNally unveiled his New York-flavoured French brasserie in SoHo in Lower Manhattan, this very convincing replica appeared just off the piazza in London's Covent Garden (about an eight-minute walk from London's Soho). The similarities between the two restaurants are striking and reassuring – warm and buzzy atmosphere, yellowy colourwash walls (read pretend cigarette-stained), distressed surfaces, huge mirrors, tiled flooring, deep red banquettes, attentive and friendly service – and there's even an undersized adjacent shop selling artisan breads, Viennoiserie, pastries, salads and quiches. Opened February 2013 for dinner, with lunch added in March, and breakfast, afternoon tea and the rest due shortly thereafter. Food is better than good, and the coffee's from local institution the Monmouth Coffee Company [see entry]. A hot spot from the word go. In-house breads, quiches, sandwiches, pastries and sticky buns available in the adjacent bakery [Mon to Sat 8.30am–7.30pm; Sun 10am–6pm].

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