In The Mood for Plein Sud!

Don’t trust me.  That’s my first recommendation from this review.  Why should you trust me? If something looks great to you, but I hate it, who is to say that I am right?  I mean, I’m just one person and it’s just my opinion.  Conversely, if I love something, it doesn’t mean you will.  I mean…I DO tend to be right, but that is just because I , like Mary Poppins, am practically perfect in every way
My whole point is, reviews are subjective.  There are a few people whose opinions I take very highly-you can find their blogs on my blogroll on the left-but even then, I like to check out a restaurant for myself to see what I think of it.  People take all reviews-of movies, of theatre, and of restaurants-WAY too seriously.  It isn’t the gospel truth, it’s someone’s opinion! 
Which is why, despite a dismal NY Times review, I decided to check out Plein Sud for lunch.  Run by Top Chef alum Ed Cotton, Plein Sud is an upscale casual brasserie in the Financial District.  I had walked by it quite a few times and decided to check it out for myself.  It is a large, laid back space with a quiet elegance about it, but no stuffiness.
Soon after being seated we were presented with one of the best slices of bread I have had since Aquagrill.  Thick, tangy slices of sourdough embedded with salty, meaty GREEN olives.  Can we just talk about how superior green olives are to black olives? Because, um…they are.  This bread was just awesome, properly sour sourdough bread with the olives giving it an extra briney kick.  The sweet butter added a layer of creaminess, and I am not embarrassed to say I ate two slices before the appetizer came!

I got a selection of veggies for my appetizer, starting with the celery remoulade with apples.  Celery remoulade is actually made with celery root in a mayonnaise and vinegar sauce and it is one of my FAVORITE DISHES OF ALL TIME!!! When well prepared, celery remoulade is creamy, acidic, tender, and refreshing.  It is like potato salad’s more refined cousin.  Unfortunately, this version was more like potato salad’s cousin who just got arrested for public urination-a little coarse, a little dull, and totally sauced.  The mayonnaise was far too cloying and apparent.  It dulled down the naturally crips, clean flavor of the celery root, and there was nowhere near enough salt of pepper.  It needed way more acid as well. The apples were a delicious note of sweetness, but it was just lacking the diversity of flavors. 
The next veggies were the chilled leeks with oeufs mimosa.  Though I never did receive the oeufs mimosa(and i do SO love deviled eggs!), the leeks were tres bien (yes, i speak French, too…sometimes I amaze even myself…)!  Leeks are like the sweetest, most mild summer onions you can imagine, and when they are gently poached in broth or wine, their sugars all come to the surface and they are simply heavenly.  Served in this light vinaigrette with just a sprinkling of chives, these were refreshing, with just enough of a bite to remind me it was indeed an onion, of sorts.  This was a lovely rendition of the dish, though their light flavor would have been greatly enhanced by those yolky, creamy oeufs mimosa…i am SO not over not getting those eggs!

The last part of my appetizer were the lentilles ravigote.  I LOOOOVE lentils, so i was thrilled that these were cooked perfectly al dente, with just enough bite to not be overcooked mush.  Served in a delightful vinaigrette with chives, shallots, and hints of capers and chervil, the lentils took on these bright flavors beautifully.  It tasted simultaneously fresh and earthy-something not easily achieved!  The vinegar and capers worked perfectly off those sweet shallots and meaty lentils.  scooped up with slices of the leeks and mouthfuls of that tangy bread…this appetizer plate was generous enough to be a light meal all on its own!
But don’t worry, I didn’t stop there…because too much is never enough, I always say! For my main I got something the extremely efficient and knowledgeable server recommended, the Thai Mussels with  coconut milk, lemongrass,  and madras curry, with french fries.  Though this is more of a southeast Asian mussel dish than Thai mussels, this oddly named dish was just fantastic.  The fragrant lemongrass really elevated the combination of the sweet coconut milk and mildly spicy curry.  The cilantro tied in both the Indian and Thai elements, and the mussels were just perfect.  Not a bad or gritty one in the bowl, just sweet, ocean scented mussels wading in a spicy, rich broth that was so good I asked for a spoon to finish it off!

The fries were also first rate.  Served PIPING hot, with a light cornstarch coating and a dusting of parsley, these avoided salt overload.  So many times after I eat fries, I feel my body slowly expanding from salt retention like I am Violet Beaugregarde:
Not cute.  Here, the fries were just barely dusted with salt so the potatoes really shined through.  They were crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and just delicious for sopping up the curry tinted sauce from the mussels.  Needless to say…I ate them all.  

For dessert I tried the lemon tart with coconut sorbet.  This was sadly disappointing.  The texture was a bit stiff for me-like there was gelatin used in it-and it was insanely sweet.  I went into a little bit of insulin shock after a bite, not gonna lie.  The sorbet, on the other hand was awesome!  Rich, creamy, coconut-y,and not at all too sugary, instead letting the coconut’s own tropical taste shine through.  Next time I would get only the sorbet and skip the tart.
Plein Sud was a delicious meal!  A few missteps, but far more hits than misses.  It was reasonably priced, well prepared food in a lovely atmosphere with excellent service.  If I had ignored my instincts and just blindly followed the NYTimes review, I would have missed out on a really great meal!  So go on…go to a restaurant I don’t like…and love it!  Prove me wrong! After all-I would do it to you  😉
Plein Sud on Urbanspoon


  1. I've learned to never trust restaurant reviews (unless they are seriously abominable…and the people on Yelp agree with them). I happen to have pretty different taste from most NYTimes reviewers, I think (mine being superior of course) so I'd rather just try it for myself. I'm glad you went with your gut instinct because this meal does sound fab!

  2. I haven't trusted the general consensus since Titanic made almost two billion dollars at the box office.

  3. Fritos and Foie Gras says:

    @Joanne-I often have different taste from NYTimes reviewers in particular, as well! I think it might be because they eat out so much, their palates are jaded…what a life, right?!
    @JusinM-good point!…GAWD that movie made a ton of money…