Now, really. Is there anything about the name of this restaurant that would lead you to believe that it wasn’t wonderful? We can all pretend that we are virtuous when it comes to what we eat, but let’s call a spade a spade … we like salty, we like fatty, we LOVE porky! Salty is not our enemy and comes from many more places than just a salt shaker. Fats, too, don’t necessarily mean transfats or bad fats. Salt & Fat, a new restaurant on Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside, Queens, certainly shows the virtues of salty and fat.
To quote their website, Salt & Fat “is a neighborhood restaurant serving globally influenced New American small plates in a relaxed casual environment. ” It couldn’t be summed up any better by anyone. Owner and chef, Danny Yi, the former executive sous chef of The Monkey Bar has set the bar high for the New American small plate concept and so far is rising well above it.
Fork and Spoon love small plate dining. It gives you the ability to try so many more things on the menu, and there were SO many things on the menu to try!
By the way, the hostess is lovely. Our waiter, Brian, super. Everyone is friendly and accommodating. The decor is simple. The tables not jammed together crowded. At the time of this writing, they had not received their liquor license yet, but had soda or water for drinks. They don’t serve coffee or hot tea. And (GASP) no iced tea.
Fork and Spoon went to Salt & Fat on a rainy, cold Tuesday night and it was pretty crowded. THe hostess told us that there was a 20 minute wait for tables the previous Saturday night. Brian came over as soon as we sat down and gave us our menus, explained that with the exception of the last three, entrée sized dishes, everything on the menu was small plates.
While we were looking at the menu and trying to decide where to start, Brian brought over a small paper bag filled with popcorn. Salty, yummy popcorn that had been popped in bacon fat. You know more than one bag was eaten. This is amazing, addictive stuff! If this was a sign of what was yet to come, we were in for a real treat.
As an aside, Spoon and Spork had tried this restaurant already. Fork had seen it and when mentioned to Spoon, laughter erupted as they had just that night been there and loved it. There was much “na na na na” coming from Spork to Fork. So in turn, when Fork and Spoon went, there were texts and photos sent with ‘na na na’ right back.
Silliness aside, we chose 4 small plates to start. Each small plate comes with 3 of whatever the dish is. Each plate is thoughtfully put together and beautiful. As much attention is paid to the plating of the food as to the ingredients in the dishes.
Our first plate to arrive was the Braised Pork Belly Tacos. Crunchy tacos filled with melt in your mouth Hampshire pork belly that had been braised in an amazing broth. Sitting on top of the pork belly nestled inside the taco shell was kimchi, pico de gallo and queso fresco. The fusion between the Korean and Mexican was seamless, as if kimchi has naturally always been on a taco. Served with the tacos were lightly picked jalapenos. Tuck one of those slices into the taco and you had a spectacular bite of food. SO many tastes and flavors at one time. You know this dish is on the FAT side of the fence, but really must be tried.
Next came the Short Rib Buns. If you like short ribs, this is so for you. The boneless short rib was fall apart tender. The nice sized square of really flavorful beef sat on a steamed bun. Ticked inside the bun with the beef were thin slices of pickled cucumber. These are pickled just enough to give you that vinegar hit, but still crisp and cucumber tasting. Topping all of this is an apricot mustard which adds a tiny bit of heat and sweet. Fork’s only negative thought here is that the bun was a little too thick so the flavors of the beef, pickled cucumber slices and mustard and apricot sauce was a little lost.
Next came Korean BBQ Wraps. Fork loves things wrapped in lettuce leaves. There’s something so seemingly healthy about it. You can honestly say you had a vegetable with the meal. Lettuce is a great, not too filling or heavy wrapper for whatever goodness is inside. And inside! Inside this lettuce leaf is a slice of BBQ hangar steak. The steak was so flavorful. The accompaniment to the steak was a thin slice of pickled daikon radish and seasoned miso. Just to gild the lily, sprinkled over the top were fried bits of shallots. Every bite hit a different part of your tastebuds and all of them were smiling!
And last – and by no means least – we ordered Crack & Cheese. Fork’s mouth is watering just typing, that’s how absolutely amazing this dish was. Imagine if you will lightly fried potato gnocchi swimming in a rich, cheesey bechamel sauce and studded with squares of crispy bacon. I don’t think another thing can possibly be said about this dish except OMG, you have to try it!
Dessert seems sparse here – and you definitely need something sweet after the salty and fatty goodness. There is a panna cotta with a yuzu buttermilk sorbet that Spoon says is amazing. We ordered the Rice Krispie Treats with Marshmallow ice cream. Yes, that’s right, marshmallow ice cream. It’s an ice cream (cream being the key word here) and marshmallow. You get the texture and flavor or both. It is truly amazing. Eaten by itself it’s wonderful. Spread on top of the rice krispie treats and it soared. This dessert is truly amazing. Definitely brough Fork back to being a kid, during the summer, with my sister! The only downside of the desserts here – they really need a third, something with chocolate!
I can’t wait to come back here. I can’t wait to bring more people here. I can’t wait for them to be open for lunch too. I can’t wait for you to get there!