Sel et Poivre
853 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10065
Food & Service:
When walking into Sel et Poivre on Manhattan’s upper east side, you are sure to be greeted warmly by co-owner, executive chef, and wine director Christian Schienle. If not Christian, then perhaps you’ll be greeted by his wife and co-owner Pamela or someone else on staff, decked out in a crisp white shirt and tie hurrying to pull out your chair. This is an intimate and inviting setting, complete with soft lights emitting from walls covered with black and white photos of the family’s history. The tables are draped in white tablecloths, topped with folded napkins, and surrounded by wooden floors and booths with satin striped cushioning. The only thing missing from the “welcome home’ air of this restaurant is a fire place.
Sel et Poivre’s menu and aesthetics is French Bistro. French cuisine tends to focus on refinement and un-complicating the overall structure of a dish. Tenets of this cuisine make sure to use good butter, preferably unsalted, focus on the
simplicity of the dishes, and do not marinate meats. These are some of the aspects of modern French cooking that are evident when dining at Sel et Poivre.
Tonight’s soup du jour is an Asparagus Soup. This excellent puree is not quite creamy, nor is it chunky or cluttered. The potato base used for this soup hits the palate immediately, helping to offset the asparagus. The lack of dairy makes this appetizer not overly filling.
The Skate Fish with lemon butter, capers and served with white rice is an amalgamation of deliciousness.
As soon as the dish is served, the fragrance of fresh fish and citrus from the sauce will have you appreciating the éntree before you’ve even tasted it. Everything from the airy lemon butter to the bitterness of the capers, complimented by the flaky pieces of skate that dissolve on your tongue, is the earmarks of a delectable main dish. This item is one of the stars on Schienle’s menu and is frequently requested by customers.
The Pork Chops with Calvados (apple brandy) Sauce (veal stock base) feature sautéed onions inundated sweetened with
brandy flavor. This sweet and savory combo comes alive with each bite. The Pork Chops are served with roasted potatoes, or with crispy, salted Pommes Frites. This comforting meal warms you from the inside out.
Sel et Poivre’s Profiteroles are the slam dunk to all the other tasty fare. Christian calls them “a chocolate sundae with a hat!” The dense dough serves as the bread in this dessert with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream in the middle. Add to this a drizzle of dark chocolate sauce and sliced almonds, and this confection contains all the wonderful elements of texture, flavor, continuity, and sugariness any one could ever want.
While Sel et Poivre has French favorites like Frogs Legs a la Provencal and Creme Brulee for dessert, Schienle also offers pastas and burgers. Many families tend to frequent the restaurant, perhaps due to the wide range of menu choices, which is located in a residential and academic area of Manhattan, and Hunter College is only a few blocks away.
With just over 100 bottles of wine available, and many by the glass to choose from… you are sure to find some excellent juice to pair with the French food of your choice.
Some may call Sel et Poivre a neighborhood gem, but we think it’s more like a staple. It is a restaurant that stands out among the cafés and other high-end establishments in the area for moderate pricing, high-quality menu items, and a
feeling of being at home, especially when the staff and the owners know many customers on a first-name basis. It’s this, along with fantastic food made with loving care, that clearly reflects why Sel et Poivre will be celebrating its 25th anniversary this summer.
Visit Sel et Poirve soon and tell them that Jennifer Baker from DinnerReveiws.com© sent you!
A native New Yorker, Jennifer Baker has been writing since she entered the academic institution and continues to do so every moment she gets. Jennifer has a particular love for desserts (both eating and baking them) and while partaking in some of the sugary treats NYC has to offer, she has interviewed local bakeries such as Ivy Bakery, First Prize Pies, Hot Blondies, and Zugar Haus. Jennifer regularly posts about writing, books, baking, and food events in addition to reviews and hosting giveaways on her website: jennifernbaker.com. You can also follow Jennifer on Twitter at @jbakernyc and check out her site at www.jennifernbaker.com