An imperious doorman stands to attention in the lobby of this famous garlic restaurant to welcome you and lead you upstairs – although you may get the feeling that perhaps you are being checked for suitability.
This fine-looking venue is built inside a Hanseatic grandee’s house above Europe’s oldest pharmacy, open for business since 1422. Established five years ago by Estonian partners who also run classy Karl Friedrich across the square as well as a range of up-market restaurants, Balthasar creates an atmosphere all of its own, with soft classical music, oil paintings and attentive service, as well as healthy prices and plenty of businessmen on expense accounts.
The garlic element is not traditional but rather an inspired novelty to attract customers. Dishes are drenched in the stuff, with marinated meats making up a large part of the menu – beautifully presented but not always as flavoursome as you might expect. Garlic beer and garlic desserts are also available.