Goes down mighty well with a glass of bubbly.
In days gone by, when I was feeling sorry for myself, and in need of connection and belonging, I would take myself to lunch at Balthazar and have the onion soup and a glass of wine, or the duck and foie gras mousse...both are appetizers and reasonably priced, and affordable to one Starting Over, or for anyone concerned with how much money anything costs.
Given that you still enjoy the massive room, the comings and goings, the expensively suited maitre d's or Agnes B.-dressed waitresses, the flowers, the lighting, the foxed mirrors, the theatre of the plateaux of shellfish going by, the smiles at the table for which they are destined when they appear, I think that these small lunches can be a bargain.
Because it was a birthday we had champagne, so goodbye budget, and my mom unearthed a beautiful package for me, which I opened at the table. It's the kind of thing people do there, and it feels fine. Vince paid the barman $5 for the date on the retro calendar over the bar, and he promised to mail it. I've done this before for a friend's birthday, asked of a then-French waiter and now French maitre d', and it never arrived, so we'll see. I tend to trust barmen.
I had the onion soup AND the duck liver and foie gras mousse, and Vince helped with the cheese on the former, as you can see. Then we went home, and began to cook for dinner.