Sel et Poivre – I’m a Lover of Their Liver

Sel et Poivre is an Upper East Side French bistro that vacillates between the different regions of France.
 It features the hearty organ meats of Lyon, the saffron tinted bouillabaisse of Marseille and the classic steak frites of Paris. Does it succeed? 
The bread was disappointing at first. Crunch, yes, but without that floury, yeasty, sour taste of a true French baguette.
HOWEVER…
The butter totally transformed this bread. Like Cinderella slipping on her glass slipper, this bread became the belle of the ball once slicked with a pat of the creamiest, sweetest butter imaginable. I could have eaten this butter with a spoon, but the bread was slightly more socially acceptable.More than that, the bread’s bland taste really let the butter shine through. I tasted the glory of the butter, versus just the taste of the bread.
Well played, Sel et Poivre…well played.
Bouillabaisse.

Excellent version of this soup. The red snapper base was briny and tasted of the ocean, with earthy notes of potato and sweet onions.

Adding a dollop of the garlicky rouille, the pungent Gruyere cheese and a tiny crisp toast made this one of the standouts of the meal. This is a dish for someone who likes the taste of seafood – while not fishy, it absolutely tasted of the sea. That was the best part about it, actually, just not for someone who is not as crazy about seafood as I am.

Celeri Remoulade with Beets.
I LOVE Celeri Remoulade. I love beets. I should have loved this…but I didn’t. The use of saffron was an interesting and bold choice, but not an especially wise one. The heady saffron totally overwhelmed the mild taste of the celery root and competed with the beets’ natural sweetness. What I did like was the use of roasted beets with the celery root. Taking the saffron out of the equation might make this dish a total star.
Skate with lemon, butter and capers.

This was delicious! Now HERE is a dish for someone who thinks he/she does not like fish – this is basically the gourmet version of fish fingers. Mild, clean tasting fish slathered in a rich but not heavy buttery sauce, tart with lemon and just salty enough from the capers. It is a flavor explosion, not from the fish, but from the well balanced sauce. The fish was a bit mushy, which could be solved with a thicker dredging in flour and being fried in a hotter pan, but the flavor was so good, I really didn’t even notice it. 
Calves Liver a La Lyonnaise
When something is served a la Lyonnaise, it incorporates sweet sauteed onions as a main ingredient. When the something served a la Lyonnaise is liver, it has the potential to be a favorite dish of mine. When the dish is done as perfectly as it was here, it is hands down a REVELATORY experience! This was my favorite dish of the night, and one of the best liver preparations I have ever had in my LIFE…my LIFE, I tell you!!! The thin fillet of liver was tender and velvety throughout, with not a stringy or tough part in it. A ightly crisped, browned exterior surrounded a rich, funky livery-y silken interior. The sweet onions brought a whole new taste to the dish, and the creamy mashed potatoes were a perfect compliment. This is my new favorite liver preparations in NYC.
Steak au Poivre
This dish was not as successful as its predecessors. Though the sauce was excellent – a spicy, creamy, rich delight – the steak itself was a bit tough and sinewy. It tasted very bland , lacking that deep, umami-filled, beefy taste that truly great steak has. This was a big letdown, as the steak itself was cooked to a perfect medium rare.
Terrine de Chocolate.

A French restaurant should excel at desserts. Sadly, this merely made the grade without succeeding it. Though the taste was rich and chocolaty, it was slightly bitter and the texture was too grainy for my taste.

This meal, if not stellar, was very good.. Thought the dessert and celeri remoulade were not quite to my liking, the liver and skate were out of this WORLD. The price point is excellent, the decor and service are charming, and the wine list is extremely extensive and varied. Head here for some bouillabaisse and liver a la Lyonnaise and you will not be disappointed.
Of course, I WILL be disappointed if you don’t take me with you.

*Note: My meal was paid for by the restaurant.  I was not paid or required to write a review, and my opinions are my own and, I feel, impartial.*


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Comments

  1. JustinM says:

    Damn I can't even get KFC to buy me dinner.

  2. M.M. says:

    I knew you'd love the liver! I am dying to go back for that skate fish, just thinking about it makes me salivate…quite literally.

  3. Chris says:

    Wow. Sounds like you had quite a meal. I love the way you describe the butter as the "belle of the ball." It must've been quite some butter. You are also incredible well in-tune with your taste buds, knowing how things should taste and being familiar with good and bad taste combinations. I enjoyed the pictures and your articulate delivery of the meal. If you ever decide to cross the park, check out Alouette in the UWS…another place with tasty French cuisine.

  4. Fritos and Foie Gras says:

    @JustinM-oh, I have to put out…did I not mention that?
    @M-haha I loved it too! We have to go out to celebrate your new hood!!
    @Chris-the butter was awesome! What do you tend to get at Alouette?

  5. JustinM says:

    You don't think I would give it up to the Colonel in a heartbeat for some free fried chicken?

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