I’m a sassy woman who is on the quest for some good food in quirky and cool surroundings. I don’t mind paying extra for the ambience, but feel just at home in a street café eating chips and mushy peas. Being Muslim means I have to think twice about where I go to eat as I only eat halal meat and don’t sample food that has been doused in wine. But, I’m always on the lookout for cool places to explore and love eating out in the wonderful city that is London.
It was a dark winter night when I got the inkling to try something new and posh in London’s Covent Garden. I booked a table at the oh so cool French/American eateries Balthazar.
I was greeted by a very handsome waiter with the most amazing French accent. I was sold already. Fickle, yes I know.
We were seated in a booth, which reminded me of a Hollywood 1940s joint crossed with a posh French restaurant. It was only 7:30 and nearly all the seats were occupied by middle class foodies all eager to soak in the French chic atmosphere and savour the supposedly mouth-watering dishes.
I glanced around the restaurant and fell in love with the draping chandeliers and large mirrors which had the menu written on them.
I eyed the menu several times searching for something I could eat. Being Muslim meant all the meat options were out the window. I settled on a salmon with salad and lentils as my main dish. It’s not something I was dying to eat, but given that the only vegetarian main options were either fish or risotto, it was the best thing I could find. Feeling greedy, I also ordered a starter, an onion with rocket salad tartine.
The starter arrived quickly and I must admit it was rather tasty. I loved the sweet taste of the caramelised onions which contrasted greatly with the flaky buttery pastry and fresh rocket salad. I devoured my food quickly, not realising just how hungry I actually was.
I decided to take a sneak look around the lavish restaurant and stumbled upon the bathroom which upstairs a huge spiral staircase and made me feel like a Hollywood starlet as they were so grand. The bathroom was a total delight and made me feel like I was transformed back to the 50s as the toilet and sink were old school and even the hand wash looked glamorous.
I ran back to my seat eager to savour my main dish. The waitresses sauntered over with a plate, with a slab of salmon, rocket salad and hundreds of lentils. I must admit I was left a little speechless. Yes, I got exactly what I ordered but it looked so boring and bland in contrast to the opulent décor from the red leather chairs to the wooden round cute tables.
I decided to get stuck in and yes the salmon tastes like salmon, but it lacked any real taste. It didn’t leave my taste buds wanting more. I slowly ate my food, chewing the lentils and rocket salad until I couldn’t stomach anymore. Don’t get me wrong I love salmon, but I like my food with a kick and spicy. This left me wanting to kick the salmon out of my plate and into the bin.
Still feeling hungry I ordered the petit fours, which was a selection of classic French mini desserts. I was disappointed to learn that I couldn’t have the tarte citron as it wasn’t suitable for vegetarians. Why oh why couldn’t they make one suitable for me. I have to confess the mini macaroon and chocolate fondant were divine and made my taste buds tingle. My only regret was not ordering a giant size portion of both, but as a moment on the lips can be lifetime on the hips I had to resist. I’m watching my figure.
The smiley waitress with the cute French accent came over with the bill and chatted to us for a while.
Although, I was disappointed with the bland salmon, I have to say the service and décor was fabulous. Would I come again? I would come again for a dessert and starter, but not for a main unless I was told by my Dr that I have to eat bland seafood….