Balthazar Str. Dumbrava Rosie 2 Tel: 212 14 60, 212 14 61 This busy restaurant is currently one of the fashionable spots of the Jeunesse Doree and the expat community. You hear a lot of English spoken around the tables, in various different accents. I saw Japanese, Spanish, Italian and British businessmen devouring their meals. Located in a beautiful old villa and decorated very tastefully, the Balthazar is truly impressive on first sight. I loved the building and the Christmas decoration, all lights and not too much else. Eye candy for those who like nice architecture and interior decoration.
The kitchen is dubbed as "fusion". In this case, it means a combo of South East Asian influences (changing every week, last Saturday it was Vietnamese) and French accents. In Your Pocket claims that Robert The Chef is one of the best cooks in town. However, I was not that impressed. Since everybody's raving, I'm willing to concede that the chef might have had a bad day and try it again some other time. I had the mini eggplants with black beans as starters -- and that wasn't so great since the black beans turned out to be simple kidney beans and I'm damned if they didn't come out of a can. They tasted exactly like your standard kidney beans in tomato sauce. Adding lots of garlic and sprinkling some greens over it didn't make it a good dish, though; too bad because those eggplants were promising. My friend Ileana had the Dim Sun as appetizers and they were a bit overcooked, although excellent in taste. Doug and Robert took the miso soup which was very good. A big bowl of it with tofu and seaweed and very yummy. Definitely a hit. I ordered a bowl of it as well. Yum. Ileana, Robert and I all had sushi next. They liked it but then they never really had sushi in a place like Saipan or DC. The fish was good but the rice was too crunchy and there was too much of it. 2/3 of the rice, better cooked and better seasoned with sushi vinegar would improve this sushi a lot. Since the fish was ok, I'd rather take the sashimi the next time. Doug had a salad - the fall salad - which was pretty good. The dressing came on the side, so brownie points for not drowning the lettuce. (Doug is hard on sushi and doesn't even try it in places where he suspects it's not good. Living in the Pacific has spoilt him a lot!) Dessert was, again, my beloved panna cotta and it was made with white chocolate and melon sauce. Pretty good but not as good as the panna cotta of Zerillo's. All in all, I give 2 stars for Balthazar. I liked the food at Zerillo's and at the Sangria (review to come soon) better and both were also cheaper - maybe I was just disappointed because I had expensive but disappointing sushi. I'm a sushi fan and had hoped for a truly good source. But, as I said, we'll give the Balthazar another try some day and maybe the chef is in a better mood then.