07 October 2010
Balt, a relatively new sandwich place in the 2ème arrondisseent, has got half the right ideas. The good half, happily: a real care for the ingredients that go into their made-to-order sandwiches (spiced lomo, Julien baguettes, mayonaisse maison, fresh tomato salsa, etc.), strong customer service, Marcel Lapierre's delightfully bright "Chateau Cambon" Beaujolais by the glass...
Their other idea was apparently to design the place like an airport fast food joint. It looks like a bad version of Qualité & Co. or Jour or any other snappy loser lunch place in central Paris designed to serve hurried assistant stooges in business suits. The disconnect between the excellent quality of Balt's cuisine and the tacky white tray it arrives on is a little grating. Same goes for the bare grey walls - someone please donate more blackboards! - and the fruity opalescent cylindrical lamps that (harshly) light the place.
Still. Restaurant design isn't everything, and the logistics of opening a restaurant are such that design often suffers for the first few years. Balt serves what are probably the best sandwiches in Paris outside of Le Petit Vendome, and even then Balt provides more variety, and some much-needed lighter options. Since I never want to actually sit in the place ever again, I'll just have to hope that next time they'll allow me to take a splash of Chateau Cambon à emporter, discreetly hidden, perhaps, in a recycled Vitamin Water bottle...
[UPDATE: 03/15/11: Balt now has two delightful tables outside. They are usually taken. But if not, they are a terrific place to eat lunch in the spring sunshine. I have been returning for these sandwiches almost daily since first writing this post.]
15, rue Monsigny
Metro: Quatre Septembre or Opera
Tel: 01 44 71 02 58
Le Fooding on Balt
A profile of Marcel Lapierre's Chateau Cambon work at VinsNatureEnNord