The restaurant named after a 19th century French writer has a simple one-page menu of carefully selected classics as canonical as its name, with ingredients of pronounced Frenchness like chicken gizzard and, of course, snails. The line up of rabbit, duck, Bourguignon, entrecôte, tartare, Belgian-inspired mussels and lobster will definitely not disappoint anyone who wants a taste of French staples, although the impressive list of game and seafood dwarfs a dainty oyster menu of only a plate of six shucked oysters and a ‘oyster cocktail’; seemingly under-represented for a respectable oyster place.

Don’t expect floral arrangements, molecular foam or Kandinsky dots on plates; a slab of meat in its sauce, served with large bowls of mash or frites on the side is all you need. Balzac is not about showmanship or gravitas; it excels in the real world of good food – fresh produce and perfect execution. You will find steaks in various kinds of sauce including béarnaise, mustard, pepper and blue cheese. You may say a steak is a steak is a steak. Well, at Balzac, a steak means a generous cut, well-cooked, that tastes of real, juicy, flavorsome meat. Together with the French cut comes a long wine list, the majority of which herald from France and Argentina. There’s even an odd one from Israel.

While the main courses stay on the no surprise front and most swear by the simple formula of a fried or grilled piece of meat with some sauce, Balzac applies creativity to spawning a diverse range of starters from onion soup, Roquefort salad, caviar, pâté, to baked camembert.

Dining in the simple but austere wood-dominant medieval castle interior when the restaurant is bathed in dim candle light is romantic and warm, whilst its unique round table for 6-8 and attentive and foreigner-friendly waiters who keep refilling glasses lends itself to being a reliable destination for lunch and dinner.

A must-try dish: rabbit.

Balzac. Clle 83 No.12-19