A classic French brasserie in the heart of Covent Garden in Central London is not a new idea, but it’s put into practice with panache by the team at Balthazar. Not only is the execution of the range of traditional bistro and brasserie dishes a cut above, but the wine list, too, has been put together with unusual care and attention.
As befits the ambience and cooking, Balthazar’s is an all-French list, but in its relatively short collection of bins, it manages to paint a detailed portrait of the best of the country’s modern wine scene. It starts with a solid Champagne list where growers such as Larmandier-Bernier mix with smart houses such as Billecart-Salmon and a concise selection of the best prestige cuvées (Philipponnat Clos des Goisses 2002 or Salon 1997), and this sets the tone for the rest of the list. From the Jura wines of Jacques Puffeney to Charly Thévenet’s natural Cru Beaujolais Régnié, via Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste Lacoste Borie 2009, and Domaine Tempier’s Bandol 2010, it’s a funky, fun list full of good choices.