New York restaurateur Keith McNally's new London location of Balthazar opened last month, and as reviews trickle in, it seems that everyone loves it. Everyone, that is, except Giles Coren reviewing for The Times. Calling it "the best restaurant in London, and the worst food in Europe," Coren gave Balthazar London 0 out of 10 points for food while giving a near-perfect 9 to both the service and the decor. Oh, and he liked the wine too, writing that dinner ran "£500 because the wine list is a bit tasty."
Still, Coren is disappointed that the flash of a good room distracted people from the food: "I had hoped that London was too sophisticated now to fall for this sort of thing, but the critics seem to be going wild for it." Well, Coren's not going to let that stand.
Coren is apparently not a fan of chefs from all over the world expanding to London:
I am fed up with the city of my birth, life and eventual probable death being treated as a dustbin for the pale shadows of restaurants that have done well elsewhere. All these feeble replicas of places by Ducasse, Robuchon, Wolfgang Puck, Vong Wotsisface, Daniel Boulud? not to mention a thousand half-baked barbecue, burger and fast-food fads.
And these places draw money and attention and very important national newspaper critics away from great original restaurants, based on local ideas, set up by hard-working Londoners.
Guy Dimond at Time Out London gave Balthazar five out of five stars, writing "Balthazar London mimics the New York original perfectly." Andy Lynes for Metro News gave it four out of five stars as "serious attention to detail...makes Balthazar the real deal." And Tracey MacLeod at the Independent gave the food four out of five stars, writing "a theatrical showcase of the restaurateur's art, it's a hit."
No matter: Coren took to Twitter over the weekend to call the praise heaped on Balthazar "the greatest mass delusion since nazism." The food at Balthazar comes out of "truly the worst kitchen to open in London since the arrival of McDonald's." And furthermore, everyone's lying about it: "Lots of chefs and critics hated it, told me they hated it, then lied publicly because they don't want to be frozen out." Well.
Eater reached out to McNally for comment — he's been known to bite back at bad reviews in the past — but has not yet received a response.
· Giles Coren Reviews Balthazar, London WC2 [The Times]
· All Giles Coren Coverage on EateR [-E-]
· All Balthazar Coverage on Eater [-E-]