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Fleur De Sel

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Has anyone dined here recently?

I just made a reservation & then

read a poor review on city Search.

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Has anyone dined here recently?

I just made a reservation & then

read a poor review on city Search.

I was there on New Year's Eve. It was very fabulous. Haven't been back since but not for lack of wanting to.


You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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I had dinner at Fleur de Sel in March and was very happy.

From experience, I have learned not to trust reviews on Citysearch. If you delve a little further into the negative comments, you'll see that most reviewers (especially when it comes to higher end restaurants) seldom seem to know what they are really talking about. The complaint of choice is either not enough food, too expensive or not "tasty" enough. Regardless, there is always the possibility of an "off night" (as in the kitchen gets slammed and you, the diner, get caught in the middle of it) which can happen anywhere, I think this alone should not dissuade you from judging for yourself...


"A chicken is just an egg's way of making another egg." Samuel Butler

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We dined here recently...two ladies,typically, given table by door to

kitchen even though other more desirable tables remained empty

during service.....charming room....service is efficient and quiet

but lacking any warmth or graciousness...piped in music is too

advant garde for setting... menu selections are interesting..

tasting menu $82, prix fixe 3 course $62. Companion elected prix fixe.

NO amuse

App Napoleon of sardine rillette

Lobster w. asian pear [petite serving of tender lobster,slightly sweet]

Ent Braised veal breast

Crisp poussin [salt crusted skin] on ragout of chanterelles & asparagus

Dessert: Chocolate gaufrette w. chocolate ice cream....two chocolate covered gaufrette wafers w. very sweet caramel gluing them...left this as it

was just too sweet.

House burgundy wine $10 for small glass

Our net bill was over $100 each and for this dinner and I thought that we

left a little hungry and less than overwhelmed even though @ item

was tasty enough.

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We dined here recently...two ladies,typically, given table by door to

kitchen even though other more desirable tables remained empty

during service.....charming room....service is efficient and quiet

but lacking any warmth or graciousness...piped in music is too

advant garde for setting... menu selections are interesting..

tasting menu $82, prix fixe 3 course $62. Companion elected prix fixe.

NO amuse

App Napoleon of sardine rillette

      Lobster w. asian pear [petite serving of tender lobster,slightly sweet]

Ent Braised veal breast

    Crisp poussin [salt crusted skin] on ragout of chanterelles & asparagus

Dessert: Chocolate gaufrette w. chocolate ice cream....two chocolate covered gaufrette wafers w. very sweet caramel gluing them...left this as it

was just too sweet.

House burgundy wine $10 for small glass

Our net bill was over $100 each and for this dinner and I thought that we

left a little hungry and less than overwhelmed even though @ item

was tasty enough.

Let me start by saying that Fleur de Sel is one of our favorite restaurants. We have dined there many times (lunch and dinner) and have always had a first rate experience.

I've seen tables of women dining there, and they are not, as you phrased it, "typically" seated in what might be considered the less desirable tables. If you were not happy with your table and the restaurant was not fully occupied, why did you not request a change?

I love the new decor. While the old decor was charming, an accurate description now, I think, would be stylishly contemporary, rather than avant garde. The seating is much more comfortable, and the lighting is perfect. The unusual chandelier of shells in the little alcove is a lovely touch. And some of chef/owner Cyril Renaud's artwork still adorns the walls.

As for your feeling that the serving staff lacked warmth and graciousness, I have not found that to be the case. While they tend to be reserved -- some might call it professional -- they are quite friendly and gracious (as is Chef Renaud, btw) when diners relate to them.

When it comes to the food, I've had that lobster dish as part of the tasting menu, and the portion was small. However, I've seen it brought to another table as part of the 3-course menu, and the portion size looked quite substantial. So, I'm not sure why you described your portion as "petite." In any event, it's a wonderful dish with a mix of unusual and delicious flavors. I haven't had the current veal preparation, but a previous veal dish I had at lunch was sensational. My husband has had the poussin, and he thought it was terrific. You only mention one dessert, the gaufrette. I can't deny it's on the sweet side and is not my favorite. However, there are a number of truly excellent desserts, like the signature Breton crepes.

It really surprised me that you said you left feeling a little hungy. I've never heard that complaint before from anyone. It certainly has never been a problem for either my husband or me, and he is not a small eater.

A note about the lack of an amuse. We have asked Chef Renaud about this. He told us that he has made a great effort to keep his prices down, and one way he decided to economize was to eliminate the amuse, which is very labor intensive and can be quite costly. He has not heard any complaints from his clientele. I think his prices are rather a bargain, considering the high quality of the cuisine as we have experienced it.

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Could you tell me a little about your experiences there at lunch. Everyone raves about the prix fixe deal. I want to try it, but my GF is a picky eater and it looks like you only have two choices for each course - I am worried that she won't find something that she likes.


Edited by johnjohn (log)

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We loved Fleur du Sel for lunch. They have other food choices besides the prix fixe. And we opted for the wine matches - then for one course we even asked for a substitute wine and they accommodated us.

Agreed only two choices for the prix fixe, but all round we had a great meal with hospitable service and definitely recommend it.

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Could you tell me a little about your experiences there at lunch.  Everyone raves about the prix fixe deal.  I want to try it, but my GF is a picky eater and it looks like you only have two choices for each course - I am worried that she won't find something that she likes.

Yes, at $25, it is a terrific deal! Keep in mind that having only two choices for each course is not any different from some other upscale restaurants that offer a 3-course lunch prix-fixe, e.g., Eleven Madison, Tocqueville, Gotham Bar & Grill.

The first and main course dishes can change from one day to the next. One of the first course selections is often a soup, and the main course selections generally feature one fish and one meat or poultry item. Dessert almost always includes one chocolate item (lately, it's been the gaufrette), and the other, while it can vary, is often fruit-oriented.

If you are intent specifically on the prix-fixe, I suggest you call the restaurant the day you want to go and ask what exactly is on that day's menu. (I'm a bit of a picky eater myself, so I've done that.) They are rarely full at lunch and getting a last minute reservation should not be a problem.

Re: the regular menu. It's actually the entire dinner menu, but unlike at dinner, when it's a 3-course prix-fixe only, at lunch, it's a la carte.

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I really like Fleur de Sel. I like that the chef is in the restaurant all the time. I like that the media more or less leaves the restaurant alone. I don't want to have a bad experience there.

We kind of had one tonight. Service was cold and food delivered slowly. They comped a half-bottle of wine as an apology. It worked. I ate maine crab wrapped in a crepe with foam made from shellfish. Seabeans advertised were notably absent. The foam had an acrid flavor indicative of burnt shells. Also way too salty.

Veal breast was cut into an impressively rectilinear square. Then, or maybe before that, it was braised for too long. The meat was dry and tough. The jus accompanying was barely tepid and carried a slick of fat. Puree of celeriac with truffles was quite perfect.

Bill for three was $300.


You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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I had lunch with two companions yesterday at Fleur de Sel and was not impressed.

Two of us had the four-course menu and one had the three-course.

My starter was the lobster salad. The portion was miniscule. 3 tiny pieces of lobster and about 3 total grams of "salad". I'd estimate the entire portion size as well under 1 ounce.

And it was weird. The lobster was okay (ie: completely flavorless), but the thick sauce underneath everything was a sugary vanilla paste which would have been more appropriate as filling for a sandwich cookie. I thought it was completely inappropriate for lobster.

My three-course menu companion's starter was the crab crepe, which was quite nice in flavor, served in a good lobster or crab-shell reduction foam. But the crepe (probably potato flour) was burned black.

For my second course I had ordered the red mullet. I asked the very friendly and helpful hostess if it was fresh and if it was light tasting or was fishy. She assured me that it was very fresh and wouldn't be fishy.

I should have known, since it was not locally caught, that there was a real danger it would not be fresh, but given the restaurant's reputation I thought it was worth a try. Have you guessed that the fish was not fresh and was quite fishy and old tasting?

I sent it back and was given the skate from the 3-course menu. The sauce, was a quite delicious combination of a lobster reduction foam and an herb-based green sauce, but the fish itself was soggy.

The cheese course consisted of three tiny slices of cheese and a slice of quince paste. It was served with hot sliced nut bread.

None of the cheeses were identified by our waiter, and only one was of any real quality. The other two were quite mediocre, and were presented with inedible rinds which had to be cut off. But no knives were provided for this course. I resorted to using the edge of a spoon.

For dessert I'd ordered the chocolate cookie with chocolate ice cream. The ice cream was nice, and the cookie had a pleasant chocolate caramel filling, but it didn't wow me.

And the service was exceedingly slow, with 5-15 minute gaps between courses.

Everything was slow, even the coffee I'd ordered to go with my dessert. It was served when the ice cream was gone and I was already 3/4 done with the cookie.

Perhaps the head chef was not present and/or some of the chefs were on vacation. If not, I am at a loss to explain why this restaurant receives the praise it does.

Rating: between 0 stars and 1 star.

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I am at a loss to explain why this restaurant receives the praise it does.

Rating: between 0 stars and 1 star.

I had a similar experience about a year ago at Fleur de Sel. Not quite as bad as yours, but in the zip code. However, it is well regarded by people whose judgment I respect, so I suspect it is uneven. Or perhaps a lot of the key staff take time off every year at Christmas time.

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And I had a simlar experience three years ago - adequate but not highly polished service, underwhelming food, small portions and despite one of us having the price fixe lunch - a very high tab (no alcohol or one glass of house wine -can't recall which). Based on reports I'd seen here at the time my experience was an anomaly. But it appears that the demon of inconsistency has reared its head again?

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Or just differences of opinion?

There were a couple of objective comments and an at least semi-objective comment in my review.

Objective:

- Crepe burnt black: It was black. Therefore it was burnt.

- Slow service: this was quantified with time durations, so one can judge for one's self whether a 15 minute delay between courses is "slow" or not.

Subjective:

- Fishy and old red mullet: some people do have a higher tolerance level for less-than-fresh seafood, so perhaps you or someone else would have found this to be fine. But objectively, it was old compared to really fresh seafood.

So yes, perhaps there are differences of opinion, but not all of what I wrote was opinion.

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I went to Fleur de Sel about a year ago and had an excellent experience. I would probably give it 2 stars (out of 4). We had the 6 course tasting menu with wine. I would not call it one of my best dining experience, probably somewhere in the middle among top places. Our service was not impeccable, but certainly a lot better than Syre received.


"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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As a member of Syre's party for that lunch, I can corroborate his statements, except for the one about his fish dish (which I wouldn't have wanted to try after he determined it to be too fishy). I did not feel as negatively about the restaurant as he did, but I would generally summarize my reaction as having come in with very high expectations because of previous comments in this thread and coming away underwhelmed and with no desire to return. Our other dining partner felt she had a great lunch, and it did turn out that she had ordered by far the best of the three of us, but there was no way we could have known that in advance.

The lobster salad was as Syre described, but I liked the taste. I understand that using vanilla in such dishes is now treated as standard by some, but I think it's a risk and will result in dishes that please some and displease others. But the size of the dish was more like that of an amuse bouche than an appetizer, let alone salad. It's fair to add, though, that the entire lunch was certainly large enough to fill my stomach.

I thought our other dining partner's crab crepe was excellent. I don't know whether that means I didn't mind a bit of maillard effect from some burning or whether I got a piece that wasn't carbonized. That starter (which was much larger than the lobster salad) was really appreciated by the one who ordered it. What I found definitely carbonized was some of the crust of the bread, which was otherwise a good sourdough.

My main dish was veal cheeks, and it was a great dish. The meat was tender, and it was cooked in a rich reduction sauce. Our other dining partner got a different cut of veal, and her dish was also excellent, and had a different sauce and taste.

What I remember most of my dessert was an excellent buttercream that tasted like dulce de leche -- which I've reminded myself was listed as a "white chocolate caramel ganache." But actually, I didn't even remember the dessert at all before looking at the Fleur de Sel website. The things I really remember most about the meal are the veal cheeks and the other veal dish. (Certainly not the cheese course, which was as forgettable as Syre indicated. Don't get me wrong: I could describe it if pressed, but it certainly was not memorable.) And one main dish plus a taste of another diner's main dish do not make a meal. With all the other dining options in New York, I see no need to return to Fleur de Sel, and I can only say that if the quality of our meal was due to crucial personnel taking vacations during the holiday season, this restaurant has really missed the boat, because our first meal at Lupa, last Dec. 26, was great and helped make us repeat customers. The other possibility is that, unless you order a limited number of items, Fleur de Sel just isn't that good.


Michael aka "Pan

 

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Had dinner there (the tasting menu) about a month ago. It was good, but not highly memorable. I did not like the room. It also has a very, very high end wine list. Lots of burgendys. If you want to spend money, and know what you are doing, might be interesting. But it's an expensive wine list, with very few modest bottles. Overall, not a place I'm likely to visit again.

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Restaurant Week New York Entry #64

One of the more peculiar events in New York - a town filled with the jolting and the eccentric - is Restaurant Week. Here restaurants advertise special lunches (at $24.07 - get it?) (and some dinners - at $35.00) that allow some restaurants to pack their tables serving meals that cost the same as the prix fixe that they offer the weeks before and after and for others to allow their chefs to snooze at the stove with dishes conventional and spare. The week provides an excuse for Bridge and Tunnel tourists to descend on Manhattan restaurants, filling each chair, and causing chaos throughout. But if it works, go for it.

To embrace this marketing triumph, some friends and I chose lunch at Fleur de Sel. Fleur de Sel [gourmet sea salt] has a daily prix fixe three course lunch menu at $25.00, so we saved a cool $0.93 - or, as New Yorkers might say, that and $1.07 can get you on the subway. [A four course lunch with a cheese plate is served for $42.00.]

Undeniably Fleur de Sel is a graceful restaurant. Even on a rainy day, Fleur's interior space is sunny Brittany. Its colorful prints, flower arrangements, and bright tones is a pick-me-up. The dining room is a small space with a lithe French country feel.

At some restaurants, one feels that the lunch specials are a come-on, a loss leader, to get diners in the door where they learn of the good stuff at inflated prices. Lunch at Fleur de Sel is an honorable occasion. Yes, the vanilla lobster salad with truffle mayonnaise and sugar cane/coffee marinated pork chops were reserved for our betters, but during Restaurant Week, perhaps no lobster or sugar cane were needed in the larder.

I started with the finest soup I have had in New York (recalling that the once amazing Soup Kitchen International is now a metastasizing franchise). Chef Cyril Renaud's parsnip soup with roasted chestnut/parsley ravioli was exquisite. The bits of truffle - black and white - was the kitchen's gift to diners. While I rarely order truffles, when used moderately, they perfume a plate. The liquid was straight-up butter, cream, and parsnip: a January bracer. The ravioli was more Valhalla than Venice. I could eat these pasta pouches all afternoon. This parsnip soup, so well rooted, is one of the finest libations I can image.

My entree was Pan-Seared Drum Fish with Baby Carrots and Mushrooms in a Lobster Whisky Emulsion. Our server explained that Drum Fish is related to seabass, a claim that I have no reason to doubt except that I seem to be told that every fish is related to seabass. Drum Fish are carnivores so they get what they deserve. However, the description of this dish promises more than the plate delivers. It was a satisfying alliance of fish and vegetables. However, the emulsion didn't have much of an impact. The fish was rich (Fleur de Sel is a butter peddler), but it was an earthbound contrast to the transcendent soup

Dessert was Raspberry Feuilleté with a White Chocolate Caramel Ganache. Sandwiched between two thin wafers was a layer of plump berries. Spooned on top of this edifice was a ganache glob, icing posing as sorbet. Eating ganache is licking the beaters when the frosting is done, slightly less challenging but equally indulgent. Fleur de Sel is stomach - not heart - friendly. However, as rich as the burnt sugar ganache was, the dessert was routine: a plate of calories, not of memories.

To imagine this lunch, alternately sparkling and pleasant, served for $24 is to demonstrate that bargains endure. And New Yorkers believe that bargains are their right. The first $24 purchase - the mythic sale which all New York schoolchildren learn is their birthright - was the purchase of the island itself by Peter Minuit from the Lenape Indians. But times change. Today $24 would not be enough to buy a pound of fleur de sel. Thankfully butter is cheaper than salt.

Fleur de Sel

5 East 20th Street (at Fifth Avenue)

Manhattan (Union Square)

212-460-9100

My Webpage: Vealcheeks

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Is the prix-fixe lunch available on weekends?

Yes. They are available on Saturday and Sunday. There are actually now two prix-fixes: 3-courses for $25 and 4 courses for $42. We had lunch there a few weeks ago on a Sunday. As always, the food was superb.

Menus

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Roz, what did you eat that was so superb?


Michael aka "Pan

 

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I haven't been to Fleur de Sel in some time (2 or 3 years), but I distinctly remember a rude host when I was there last. Is that problem corrected?

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Roz, what did you eat that was so superb?

Pan, I ordered off the a la carte menu. I started with Parsnip Soup, White Truffle & Roasted Chestnut Ravioli, which I've had before. Chef/owner Cyril Reynaud's soups are uniformly excellent, but this is probably my favorite. Ambrosial! My main course was Sullivan County Squab, House Smoked Fingerling Potatoes & Black Truffle Jus. I love squab, and this was a first rate preparation. For dessert, I chose one of Chef Reynaud's signatures: Granny Smith Apple & Caramelized Brittany Crepe With Devonshire Whipped Cream. I had had it only once before, the first time we ate at Fleur de Sel just after they opened in 2000. It's still delicious. We've eaten lunch and dinner there many times. Always an enjoyable experience.

I haven't been to Fleur de Sel in some time (2 or 3 years), but I distinctly remember a rude host when I was there last. Is that problem corrected?

We have never had anything other than very courteous service.

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I was just offered a position at this restaurant in NYC. Im new to New York and don't really know much about it, other than what is on its website and on yelp.com.

Im just curious to know if anyone here has been there or had some experience with this restaurant and/or chef.

Thanks in advance for any insight.

-Chef Johnny


John Maher
Executive Chef/Owner
The Rogue Gentlemen

Richmond, VA

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