I was invited to a press meal at Sel et Poivre in the UES with Vin and a few of our food reviewer friends. This classic French bistro has been in business for YEARS, as in this institution is nearing their 30th anniversary! The current owners are a husband and wife team who focus on several “F” things in life: family, friendliness, France, and FOOD. As soon as you walk in, there’s a classy wood bar on the right (loved it!) to go with the wood décor throughout the restaurant and welcoming family photos on the warm colored walls. It made the restaurant look very traditional and elegant, but oh so inviting. The restaurant was packed with regulars in a comforting and homey environment and I was impressed with the wait staff that attended to everyone’s needs without thinking. Many of the staff have been here for years and you can tell how in tune and attentive they are to the guests. Can’t beat that kinda service!
I scanned the regular dinner menu and was excited to see some authentic French dishes on the menu (Calf’s liver! Veal kidneys!), but we were given a preset tasting menu with some other great offerings.
We started off with a couple appetizers that were quite tasty and memorable. The first dish was a celery root remoulade with red beets. I really liked the great curry spice on the veggie strings perched on top of the beets, and the beet chunks were sweet and fresh.
The next appetizer appears as “fish soup” on the regular dinner menu but trust me when I say it’s not JUST fish soup; it’s more of a fun and delicious dining experience! The soup had a great mild seafood flavor in a light tomato broth. A second plate came out with pieces of sliced, toasted baguette, a spicy garlic and mayo roue, and a pile of shredded Swiss cheese. You take some of the spicy roue and spread it on a piece of bread, sprinkle the cheese on it and essentially build an edible boat for the soup. The best part is drowning the bread and mixing the cheese in the soup. The flavors were heavenly and perfect for a chilly winter’s eve.
We tried a few of the entrees, starting with a delicately cooked brook trout almondine style with a tangy and tart beurre blanc and lemon wedge garnish (so light and I appreciated the acid in the sauce); a pretty pink medium rare leg of lamb served with haricots verts and potatoes (quite nicely cooked); and a well-seasoned sirloin steak with a creamy and peppery au poivre sauce and calvados. Johnny Prime was happy to have such a perfectly cooked steak with the right amount of “millennial pink” color on the meat. And we both loved the crisp homemade French fries that accompanied this dish! It was so good that the food was forked onto everyone’s plates before I could get a decent shot =)
On to the desserts! Out came plates of puffs of profiteroles served with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream. I really liked that this was served with ice cream instead of just cream; the contrast of cold with the warm sauce just is so palatable to me. We were each given a sweet little glass of dessert wine (Muscat pommes de Venice) for a perfect pairing.
And last but not least: a tarte aux fruits. Today’s special tarte had bright and beautiful strawberries and blueberries with an extra crisp crust and a very mild custard filling. The light dessert was a great way to end the meal. I was eyeballing the regular dessert menu and may have to come back to try the chocolate mousse with caramelized bananas and crème anglaise or the strawberry and macadamia crepe; the more traditional, the better!
If you’re in the area, please stop by and say, “‘Allo!” to Pamela and Christian for me!
853 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10065