Bistrot Balthazar was almost a full-house when we arrived. The waitress asked if I’ve made a reservation. “Hmm… did we?” I didn’t even know we have to book in advance. Fortunately, Ms. Teresa had reserved a table. Once seated, menu were handed over to us: we were treated to a tempting list of mouth-watering dishes. Feeling hungry after a long walk around Avignon, we decided to go for the full course – starter, main, and dessert.
Ambience and ServiceWe loved the setting of our dinner — a lovely terrace tucked away in the Place de Corps Saints, off the usual tourists’ radar. There was seating inside, but to celebrate Summer, we opted for a table under the trees and umbrellas.
It was very busy on a weekday evening… 8pm and it was buzzing with an eclectic crowd. The service was understandably more to the slower side with waiters struggling to serve the full house, but when our waitress came to our table, she was helpful and polite. Our first course took approximately 20 mins to arrive. For starter, they were beautifully presented with descent portion size. It turned out to be a pleasant surprise as they were not only beautiful to the eyes, they actually tasted excellent.
The menu was wide ranging. However, I can’t help but fixed my eyes on the word “Asparagus”. I’ve always longed for a full plate of fresh asparagus, to have a chance to try it in Avignon was EVEN better. Seconds after my order was taken, Jeanna asked for the same dish but the waiter told us that my portion of asparagus was the last of the day. Lucky me. Thus, Jeanne ordered the smoke salmon, which was equally inviting.
For the main course, I went for the French Cuisine staple: Tartar Beef. The portion was large with wonderful flavor. I had a terrifying experience when ordering tartar in a Russian Restaurant traumatized me… I was glad that this one from Balthazar set things right again. Jeanne’s seafood platter was a sumptuous affair, almost finger licking good (I said almost because if I were to do it in a French Restaurant, I’d kick myself out.)
Normally, we’d order a side dish each in restaurants because we were almost certain that food portion in western countries would never satisfy our Malaysian black-hole-stomach. Turned out we were wrong. We couldn’t finish our potatoes and salad despite them being delicious. Teressa had a fish dish which looked absolutely divine, wonderfully falling apart on a fork. (I spent way too much time staring at other people's food. Creepy me.)
As suggested by the waitress serving our table, I had a glass of red wine to go with my tartar while Jeanne had a glass of white. It is important to pair the right food with the right wine. Terrible food pairing would make even the best wine taste awful. Hence, I’ll not tell you which wine to order, but I can certainly say that ours were of high quality. Ask your waiter for suggestions!
Desserts had us craving for more. They always say that girls have separate stomachs for desserts, true enough! Despite feeling full, we simply can’t say no to desserts, especially not when I saw "Mount Blanc" on the menu! Those who know me had most probably heard me saying this a couple of times already “Mount Blanc is the best dessert I’ve ever ever ever tasted!” However, when my favorite dessert was served, I couldn’t recognize it! The only time I’ve tasted Mount Blanc was in Paris, from a renowned shop “Angelina”. It was delightfully served in a cup, but when I saw Balthazar’s Mount Blanc, I was surprised: It was shaped like the snow-capped French Alps. A taste of it sent me back to the days when I was in Chamonix, exploring the mountains. It was that good, I’ve found the most authentic “Mount Blanc”.
Funny enough, we’ve never tasted Rhubarb. When Teresa explained to us that it is a type of vegetable, I couldn’t accept the concept which vegetable is corporated into desserts, not even in my wildest imagination. Before we begin stuffing our faces, we took out our smart phones (not such a good table manner huh? but who cares?) to search about this fascinating vegetable. I know what you are thinking. To those who think that we are such amateurs, try to imagine eating carbohydrates with fruits and only fruits, then you’ll understand how we felt (Yes, we Malaysians eat Durians with rice. Please visit Malaysia. ) The rhubarb dessert was new to our palate and a surprisingly heavenly find.
ConclusionWhat we love:
- The ambience.
- The recommended wine.
- The food portion… breakfast for the next morning had been taken care of, stored away in our stomachs up to the esophagus.
- The lovely manifestation of classic French cuisine by making the best out of the freshest local ingredients.
- The generous amount of mouthwatering sauce accompanying each dish. (I meant G-E-N-E-R-O-U-S!)
- Mount Blanc was the highlight.
A friendly note to the restaurant:
Maybe Bistrot Balthazar should consider hiring more waiters.
Try to restrict yourself when ordering. 2 courses should be fulfilling but if you decided to take the full trio, try to avoid ordering side dish. I absolutely hate wasting food and I still felt guilty to this date.
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Thank You for Reading!
Miss Happy Feet was a guest of Vaucluse en Provence Tourism Board, however, all photos and opinions are as always, my own.
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