Rating: 3 out of 5.

Intended or not our food at Balthazar was looking too yellow yesterday morning, most likely due to the low-level lighting designed to give the place some warmth. The attractive pictures online and well-regarded reviews were reasons enough for me to ask our troop to schlep all the way to Covent Garden for our first London breakfast in this trip, luckily on a fairly sunny winter day at that. To shake things up we decided to take the convenient No. 26 bus instead of the subway and got there just a few minutes past our 9 a.m. booking, right into an atmospheric French-type brasserie staffed by continental Europeans. The entrance was all decked in can’t-miss Yuletide garb and Christmas music wafted through the room while our party of three sat and dined on traditional English breakfast, Eggs Benedict, and New York pancakes. It was an enviable start to the day.

The English breakfast and Eggs Benedict were hits according to my fellow diners but the New York pancakes – definitely not even New York-adjacent – were only saved by the generous serving of separately-ordered crunchy bacon. They were so ordinary and amateurish I didn’t even finish them off and felt bad about it. There are many other options on the menu so I’m not averse to going back if we’re in the neighborhood again but it did remind me once more that good food is what truly makes a restaurant, far more than atmosphere. And as breakfast is supposedly the most important meal of the day, the food better be special if not satisfying. Let’s see how the following mornings go.

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