Gotham Geek Guidebook: Balthazar
A look at the SoHo restaurant that's home to way too many blogger happy hours.
Left-leaning news hub The Huffington Post launched a new blog on Thursday, one that's been talked up quite a bit among the New York new media scene. It's called "236.com"--that's 23/6, which could be considered the 24/7 of the liberal leisure class that reads HuffPo blogs in the first place. (For the record, the main 236.com domain, which will include more print and multimedia content, has not yet launched.)
Anyway, in describing itself to curious visitors, a blurb at the top of the new blog explains: "236.com is a co-production between the gigantic, vaguely Death Star-like 'new media holdings company' IAC/InterActiveCorp, and The Huffington Post, a progressive news hub where outraged people go in order to get more outraged before going to have dinner at Balthazar."
For those of you outside the New York tech scene, that last sentence might not make a whole lot of sense, so I'll help you out with it. Balthazar is a highbrow, red-awninged French bistro in the Manhattan neighborhood of SoHo, opened a decade ago by restauranteur Keith McNally, and it has a reputation for high-quality but high-priced food at all meals of the day.
If you're involved in new media in Manhattan, chances are good that you've been to Balthazar more than a few times. But at first glance, the Euro-styled place isn't particularly nerdy. The crowd at breakfast typically consists of business-hipster types in black framed glasses who walk in with copies of the International Herald-Tribune tucked under their arms, and later in the day it's a social spot for well-dressed downtowners and tourists who still have a few bucks to spend after a day of shopping in retail-friendly SoHo.
The unlikely geek cred of such a place comes from the fact that Balthazar is one of the bigger and more high-profile restaurants in a neighborhood that's pretty much saturated with Web start-ups. Within shouting distance, aside from the Huffington Post, are Gawker Media, Flavorpill, Mogulus, Thrillist, TreeHugger, Socialight, GroundReport, PSFK, Blip.tv, and probably a handful of others I'm forgetting. Consequently, Balthazar is a constant go-to place for meetings, power breakfasts, after-work libations, and what-have-you.
In fact, it's become such a ubiquitous spot for the digital-media crowd that some people are downright sick of it, opting to instead hold meetings at--the horror!--the Starbucks across the street.