Saturday, March 24, 2007

Back to Balthazar - Diner’s Journal - Dining & Wine - New York Times Blog:

Arguably the hottest restaurant opening of early 2007 is Morandi, if you bear in mind that Gordon Ramsay at the London opened in late 2006, as did the Waverly Inn, which officially never opened — at least according to the coyly articulated position of the Graydon Carter Fabulosity Institute. It may never open, instead remaining content and profitable in some hyper-exclusive limbo where phones are never answered and hoi polloi are reduced to quivering, pointless supplication.

Morandi’s heat comes not from its chef, Jody Williams, who’s no slouch, but from its owner, the restaurateur Keith McNally, now trying his hand at an Italian venture. His proving ground was French: Odeon (which he no longer owns), Balthazar, Pastis. Especially Balthazar. Above all Balthazar. It represented the three coolest restaurant syllables since Indochine, and it’s still cool, a full decade into its existence.

But how’s the actual experience of it? I stopped by in a gearing-up-for-Morandi mood and frame of mind, and on this visit — and do I emphasize it was just one visit — I didn’t have such a wonderful time at all.

11:55 AM