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Fleur De Sel


Wilfrid
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Dinner tonight with Ranitidine (Alan) on our anniversary.

We had the autumn tasting menu, a very good value at $62 per person. The tasting must be ordered by the entire table. There are five courses, with two choices for each course with the exception of dessert. Each diner receives two desserts. We split the menu. I had the first dish listed and ranitidine had the second. This worked out thus:

First course:

R: goat cheese ravioli, with beet mustard jus

S: sardine rillette with buckwheat sprouts and parmesan tuiles

The sardine dish was excellent, with very good proportions and contrast between the tuiles and the smooth sardine paste. The ravioli were less successful. Ranitidine had to taste the sauce separately a couple of times to even figure out that it was beet. The sauce was a little sweet, a motif that was to recur.

At this point, we asked for the menu to be brought back to the table, so we could better keep track of what we were eating.

Second course:

R. seared scallops with artichoke and honey sherry gastric

S. steamed parsnip soup with roasted chestnut ravioli and truffle oil

Scallops were perfectly fresh and cooked. R. thought these were a revelation. (And I thought I had been doing well with scallops.) No artichoke puree detected, but there were interesting chips of some kind crowning the scallops. Tiniest bit of sweetness in sauce.

The parsnip soup was foamy, as a result of the steaming; the chestnut ravioli had a wonderful texture and taste that complemented the soup well. The alleged truffle oil added little.

Third course:

R. Potato crusted wild striped bass with broccoli puree, with Malbec maple sugar wine sauce.

S. Skate braised with balsamic glaze, wild mushrooms, cippolini onion confit

Relatively un-sweet considering that there was maple syrup in the sauce; skate was bland. I think this fish needs some acid or salt, or some other kind of contrast to its mild, bland flavor. It was also a little overcooked.

Fourth course:

R. Venison loin, with beet licorice sauce and Yukon Gold and sweet potato gratin with venison sausage

S. Veal tenderloin, with parsley spaetzle, and cognac shallot sauce

For S. this was the best course. R: The venison was grilled, but not charred on the exterior, tender but not mushy on the interior. Very tasty, complemented beautifully by the Rhone wine, more of which later.

Dessert: 1st course -- raspberry feuillete, white chocolate caramel ganache, fleur de sel

The caramel took the curse off the white chocolate in this dessert. The luscious ganache was thick oval that sat atop the raspberry napoleon. A few grains of fleur de sel sprinkled on top added texture and flavor contrast.

2nd course - La Gaufrette au Chocolate, et son Sorbet. I'm not usually fond of chocolate desserts, but it was all I could do to keep myself from picking up the plate and licking it. It wasn't overwhelming with richness, but a was balanced plate combining crunchy wafflettes and the refreshing coolness of sorbet with a luscious buttercream.

The food was good, although some of the courses had a little e xcessive sweetness. There were, however, serious service errors. I arrived first and was seated at the table. Alan was not greeted, and eventually saw me and sat down. It took nearly 15 minutes to be given a menu. We hadn't noticed the time, especially, because we were exchanging gifts. The staff, believe me, was not giving us privacy, but was simply not conscious of our presence.

We asked our waiter to match wines with the courses. He didn't really interact with us until the fourth course. He missed the first wine altogether, but comped us partially. Then, he told us he had a fine chardonnary-sauvignon blanc (I'm not making this up.) It turned out to be a suavignon blanc, which we drank during the second course. He served us an Alsatian pinor noir (an unusual choice) for the third (fish) course. We found it closed and somewhat thin. It's easy to see why this has never become a popular Alsatian wine. A reisling would have been the more expected and better choice. Then, chagrined after hearing our opinion of the wine, he brought two other reds for us to choose from to accompany the meat course. He gave us each tastes of both wines. Alan selected the St. Joseph, a 100 per cent syrah Rhone wine; I chose the beaujolais for the veal. We were both very satisfied.

I was disappointed that there was no wine offered with the two desserts, although I was pleased that the waiter asked if we wanted our coffee before dessert or after. We always prefer coffee after.

No amuse; no mignardaises.

The tasting menu was $62 each; the wines an additional $54. Considering that the average price of an entree ordered a la carte is about $31, the tasting menu is a very good value.

A very pleasant experience, despite the bumbling, indifferent, service at the beginning of the meal.

A miniature menu-souvenir is left on a table for guests to take home. It notes that dessert tastings are available. On the oast page of the souvenir menu is a recipe for parsnip soup.

Edited by Sandra Levine (log)
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Interesting report, Sandy. I notice the price of the tasting menu has gone down in price since April. I'm pretty sure it was $75 then; Wilfrid reported $65 a little while back, and now it's $62. Given the problems with the wine pairing, I think we'll just order bottles ourselves on Sat. Hmmm, the sweetness thing, not for me either. Pity abut the skate too. I 'm beginning to think fish (scallops aside) is not the restaurant's strong point. Last thought: Do you know if Renaut was in the kitchen last night? When I was last there he wasn't.

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I think the meat dishes have been consistenyl better than the finish. I have never tried pairing wines - I believe the maitre d' also wears the sommelier hat, but I have usually just chosen something from the list.

I probably misrepresented $62 as $65 - I doubt if it changed again - but I agree it has dropped ten bucks over the last year.

They have made many changes in the front-of-house staff, ironically not much for the better.

Were there dollops of caviar on the goat cheese ravioli? There should have been.

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Dinner with two friends on Saturday night was good to very good food-wise. My parsnip soup with chestnut ravioli was as lovely as I remembered. We went a la carte and the soup portion was, as expected, much larger than my previous one from the tasting menu. Others who had the sweetbreads (sauteed with a wine reduction) and the signature dish, foie gras with rosewater, were very pleased.

My main, duck breast (tender with hardly any chew) along with leg confit (tasted better--it was permeated in fat, and not that crisp on outside), was smothered in a wine reduction. I do like gravy, but this was over the top. Other dishes appeared to suffer from this swimming problem too--e.g., venison in beet sauce. Two had reportedly excellent poussins.

Desserts were spectacular. As always the raspberry feuillete with caramel ganache was delicious, as was the pear tartare--tiny cubes of ripe pear with ice cream (hazlenut I think). The run away winner, for me, was a very dark chocolate round crisp with the darkest of dark, bitterish chocolate ice-cream. Hats off to patissier, Yvan Lemoine.

Very nice Morey St Denis 98, and then a bold Burgundy, Marsannay, that stood its ground with the duck and venison.

All of the above was seriously marred by this little restaurant's being over-packed. There were large (12) and medium (6) sized parties, and not only was it cramped, it was very noisy. Second, the place was over-hot. Third, the m'd was initially inept. Much like Sandy's husband's experience, we were ignored on entry. Given the size of the place this meant that two of us were inside the door, the other two outside. There were many staff this night and the m'd was standing only a few feet away speaking to customers. (The lighting is truned down--Wilfrid is right--and maybe that hinders people being seen.) Anyway, we were eventually greeted (that's an overstatement, acknowledged in a non-committal way) by the m'd. Other wait staff were helpful and efficient. We noted, however, we were not offered the tasting menu; we didn't really mind as we were not up for a very big meal. I inquired whether Renuat was in the kitchen. He wasn't. (I don't know if it was because I asked about the chef and the staff wondered whether I was of some importance (!), but we got a cognac and Calvados on the house.

It's interesting to see this restaurant's development since April. After three visits, I think we caught it at a very good moment on the first outing, but that it has not maintaned its quality over the year.

Edited by yvonne johnson (log)
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  • 2 months later...

Hi all,

I am going to Fleur de Sel tonight in celebration of my birthday and was hoping I could get some recommendations. thanks

lauren

"Is there anything here that wasn't brutally slaughtered" Lisa Simpson at a BBQ

"I think that the veal might have died from lonliness"

Homer

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I hope you enjoy it. From a number of visits, I would steer you away from lobster, which is one thing they don't seem to get right, and towards meat, especially veal sweetbreads, if that's your thing, squab and any braised meats. For a first timer, I'd recommend the appetizer which accents goat's cheese with caviar, an unusual combination which works well. Assuming it's still on the menu.

Have fun.

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Although it has been quite a while since we last had dinner at Fleur de Sel, I had an excellent lamb main course one time which was accompanied by the most outrageously delicious mashed potatoes (served in a separate little pot) that I have ever had -- and I am not usually a fan of mashed spuds. So, I'd say they do those sorts of things very well. When it comes to dessert, I really liked the apple crepe. If it's still on the menu, I recommend it.

Hope your dinner is an enjoyable one and Happy Birthday!

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Oh where to begin. We were given a great seat in the back corner so we could hvae more privacy ( I should note first, that my date and I know the chef, so we were in for a treat)

They gave us a lovely pink champagne,name escapes me. The menu was incredilbe, if it wasnt for the waiters help, I would have been stumped. I decided on a artichoke and goat cheese ravioli with caviar on top in a beet coulis, and a Long Island roasted duck with baby bok choy and plum chutney. I cant recall the exact sauce, but I will ask my friend when I see him. The amuse bouche wasnt exactly an amuse bouche size,, it was a regular size appetizer. Parmasian mache ( is that spelled right) layered with oyster puree and arugal on top. I can not even descrive the flavors of this, it was just so savory and delicous, the oyster puree just melted, melted. the ravioli was also incredible. rich goat cheese flavors, complimented by the small dollop of caviar and the beet coulis was just excellent.

the duck was succulent and rich and went wonderfully with the plum chutney,,, we also ordered a bottle of Pinot Noir, dont know what year, sorry, i never pay attention to the wine and i will start to.....

My date's lamb was incredible too,

after dinner, i was waiting for dessert, but no,, the chef had preparred a special sauteed foie gras for us, prepared with rose water and a fruit coulis, now I generally do not like foie gras, the ones in the past tasted too, well, livery, but this was just perfect, it just melted, melted on my tongue, i couldnt believei t could taste so well

Ok i ve got to do some work, dessert post will follow soon

i hope this wakes up your taste buds for now

lauren

"Is there anything here that wasn't brutally slaughtered" Lisa Simpson at a BBQ

"I think that the veal might have died from lonliness"

Homer

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yeah, the crazy pastry chef at Fleur de Sel sent out a dessert with rasberries and caramel mouse, along with a light as air banana mousse, an apple crepe with devonshire creme and then , thinking that we werent already in sugar shock, sent out a melting chocolate tart with vanilla icecream

I then went home and passed out. But right now I am eating butterscotch pudding from ELMO and its very very good.

:)))) i am a very happy girl, YVONNE, my darling you rock

Lauren

"Is there anything here that wasn't brutally slaughtered" Lisa Simpson at a BBQ

"I think that the veal might have died from lonliness"

Homer

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Katie the Greatie,,, Meal was outrageous!Herb wrote me about Studio kitchen,, I ll be there in a heartbeat

LLLLLL :biggrin:

"Is there anything here that wasn't brutally slaughtered" Lisa Simpson at a BBQ

"I think that the veal might have died from lonliness"

Homer

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  • 8 months later...

I just made a reservation for 7 for my mother-in-law's birthday at Fleur de Sel. I have never been, although I have heard great things in various posts. Any particular recommendations on what to order, where to sit, etc? How is the tasting menu vs. the a la carte options? Are there other restaurants in the city you would compare it to?

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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I was sorely disappointed in my $100 plus lunch there last summer. That was for two people but the only alcohol was one glass of house wine and my dining partner had the special $20 lunch tasting menu. We were both underwhelmed by the food but the atmopshere was pleasant. It's a small place. We were seated at a banquette in the back corner and had a nice view of all who came and went - I thought it as a good place to sit but it's a small place and I dont' think there's a "bad table" per se.

Our experience seems to be an anomaly - many others have posted here with favorable reports. I should note that we had planned to eat in the front room at Gramercy Tavern (it was a Saturday) but decided to not to wait an hour for a table - opted for Fleur de Sel instead. Since then I have had lunch (late on a weekday) at GT and felt that it blew away Fleur de Sel for lunch - far better value for the money and markedly superior service. I have not eaten dinner at either and can comment only on my lunch experiences.

Edited by phaelon56 (log)
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Your lunch at GT was it in the front tavern room or the dining room. I've often expressed the opinion that the tavern room is one of the best food buys in the city. The food in the dining room is better however and you get tablecloths and that sort of thing. When I say the food is better in the dining room, I mean that they tend to use better cuts of meat and offer more complex dishes. The level of care that goes into all the food is excellent across the board.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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My lunch was in the front room - the tavern area. They really have their act together. I enjoy having fresh lime juice with my traditional pre-meal tonic water - outside of Central American and Mexico where fresh lime juice is abundant and widely used, GT is the only place that has actually offered me a small glass of lime juice on the side to add to my tonic. They even bring simple syrup on the side for those ordering unsweetened iced tea. These may seem like small touches but they add up to a class act. Also... the chocolate malted ice cream is killer - has to be tried.

Edited by phaelon56 (log)
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  • 1 year later...

Visited Fleur de Sel for dinner, with friends, the day after Thanksgiving. We were all having way too much fun to take notes, but I can enthusiastically recommend the "Maine sea scallops, black truffle and cauliflower mouselline, organic cider and carrot emulsion," and the "wild Scottish partridge, seared foie gras, sweet potato puree, and cider jus."

And the hot chocolate souffle. We all ordered the tasting menu, which came with the souffle. After we had that, one of us -- probably me -- noticed that there was also a dessert menu. We looked it over, and ordered two additional desserts for the table. Then the chef gave us another two desserts. I tried to get my hands on the lunch menu to see if there was anything else we wanted to order, but couldn't.

Bruce

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