Fork and Spoon were invited to a Press Tasting Dinner at Sel et Poivre on the upper east side of Manhattan. And while we don’t want to do too many of these – we prefer anonymous visits – after looking over the everyday menu we decided to give it a whirl.
Sel et Poivre began 20 years ago as a mother/daughter owned restaurant, over the years it evolved into what it is today a husband/wife owned restaurant.
The space is small and getting through the bar to the dining room can be almost impossible.
Fork and Spoon arrived and met our host and hostess and were truly looking forward to this dining experience. The dining room is lovely and warm and our dining companions fabulous. The photographs that line walls both upstairs and down are wonderful, some by famous photographers, some family photos. The bread – fabulous (yes, one of the important things in life, like bottomless iced tea).
To start we were served Fish Soup. Spoon had the sense to say she doesn’t eat fish and was offered another dish – which we will get to. Fork wanted to try the dishes being offered and specifically asked the waiter if there was any shellfish in the soup. Nope. None. No shrimp shells? Nope, notta a one. Okie dokie. Sigh – you know what’s coming, right?
Anyway the soup was very interesting. A bowl of flavorful fish soup is brought to the table along with a plate of toasts, grated cheese and an aioli. It’s sort of a do-it-yourself soup. Very interesting. So the owner comes by, Fork asks – ‘Is there shellfish in the soup?’ ‘Why yes, yes, there is. They use shrimp heads and shells.’ The blanch that came across the tines of the Fork must have clued him into a problem. Off he went to the kitchen and this was the answer he came back with. Sit down, you’re going to love this one. ‘Yes, we always use shrimp shells and heads in the soup, but the chef said (ready?) not in this batch.’ Fork must looked as though I was forged yesterday. The itching commenced. And this set the tone for the rest of the meal as far as Fork was concerned. Thanks for the hives. They were in places no self respecting fork should have them.
You know what? Tell the truth. Inform your staff. Fortunately, Fork is not as highly allergic as I once was. Anyway, let’s continue…
Spoon (smart cutlery) was brought a lovely plate of pate and the typical accoutrement. The pate was very good. Along with the pate were cornichon, toasts and a grainy mustard.
Following these was a Celery Root Remoulade with Red Beets. We loved the contrast between the bright celery root and the ruby colored beets. Light, refreshing, slight curry flavor to the celery root. All together a nice simple dish.
Our next dish was Skate with Lemon Capers and Basmati Rice. Fork loves skate, and this was very well prepared – butter, lemon, a light saute, some capers, what could be bad. Skate – for those of you who have not tried it – is from the ray family. It is a light and delicate white filet. The skate was served with basmati rice.
Spoon – the non-fish eater (smart cutlery) – was given an alternative dish – which was originally going to be steak, but turned out to be ravioli. The ravioli was filled with smoked mozzarella and asparagus and served with a light tomato and cream sauce. Very good ravioli. (Odd that, ravioli filled with mozzarella being served at a press dinner in a French restaurant, but it must be the itching taking over again.)
Our last course before dessert was Calves Liver a la Lyonnais with mashed potatoes and brocoli. The liver was smothered in onions. There was a little quiet chatter between the Spoon and Fork and Your Vicarious Experience. Fork had never eaten calves liver before, Spoon wasn’t a fan. We all thought it an odd dish to serve. Fork is of the belief if the liver didn’t have feathers at some point, it shouldn’t be eaten. Being the good sports that we are, the 3 of us tried it. I can’t describe the taste – I was too busy itching at the time – but it isn’t something I would like to try again. The mashed potatoes and brocoli were very good. Does that help?
For dessert we were served a Terrine de Chocolate, which sat in raspberry coulis. The terrine was light and chocolatey, very smooth and rich. The raspberry coulis a perfect balancing act with the chocolate.