Salud, July 12, 2005

144 Beekman Street

On my way over to try Quartino for a third time for lunch I stumbled across Salud. I've walked by it once before but didn't really pay any attention to it. But there was a blackboard outside advertising a prix fixe lunch for $15, that included two dishes (not courses) and a beverage. A beverage included! I've yet to hear of such a thing.

Once you've crossed the threshold, you are immediately transported to a plantation-style home or restaurant in Havana (during the good years) or maybe (*gasp*) Key West today (as opposed to the 80s).

White walls and wainscoting with dark wood accents including lotus leaf-shaped blades on the ceiling fans, sturdy chairs and tables as well as several wrought iron candelabras are punctuated by green palm trees of unknown genus. Part Pottery Barn, part Bagatelle Restaurant (at least how I remember it) .

The room is split level, with the bar and main dining room at street level and a small/narrow seating area four or five steps up and adjacent to the main dining room. Another small set of stairs lead downstairs to the kitchen.

Behind the bar, which is the first thing you see when you walk in, is a semi-oxidized copper piece of art depicting palm trees. Behind it is a depression in the wall, painted a rich goldenrod, giving the impression that you are looking out of a window at sunset somewhere south of the border.

The manager on duty, Anne, was as pleasant as the feeling in the room. She gave me both the a la carte and prix fixe menu. Here's what I had:

Sauteed Shrimp in a wine and garlic sauce
The shrimp were of the regular variety - no ruby/royal red shrimp today, but came seven, yes seven, to an order. Wow. They were excellent as well. Firm and not flabby, very fresh tasting and just as you'd want them. The thicker plaintains that they served with them were fine as well, just sweet enough to balance the garlic sauce.

Paella with lobster, shrimp, clams and mussels
The saffron-colored rice was in a bowl-fitted dome of larger-than expected proportions for a tapas. Around the rice were two clams and two mussels. Within the dome of rice were a few chunks of perfectly cooked lobster (everything from claw to tail pieces could be found) and two more shrimp - although these still had their shells as well, which was fine. The dish was rounded out with peas and your traditional flavors but no sign of chorizo. An excellent dish, and definitely a better paella, even in the smaller sample, than what I had at Blue Ribbon.

I chose iced-tea for my prix fixe beverage, which I believe was sweetened to order. I could be mistaken. In any case that was fine, and water was provided (no tap/bottled/sparkling questions here. You get tap. Really saves you and the server the silly formalities that take place too often these days).

The prix fixe menu offers twelve items (of the 20) from Salud's tapas menu. I look forward to sampling all of them. I would recommend this combination though, as it kept the flavors consistent throughout the meal.

Total after tax came to $16.30. I challenge anyone to find me a deal this good in the Financial District. For the quality of food, pleasant host and simply relaxing room, you cannot ask for more. I'll be back once a week, hopefully at least one Thursday for an early dinner just to see the live music. It's no wonder they received "Best Small Restaurant" by Citysearch.


Blogger BADGE said...

I went back to Salud and took my two colleagues, Joana and Sarah, as a thank you for the hard work they did on a recent project.

Joana repeated my previous prix fixe lunch dishes and had a similar reaction to the quality of the shrimp and mini paella.

Sarah had the ceviche and the cod fritters, which also were welcomingly received. I tried both and favored the cod. I thought that the ceviche, though good, was lacking in strong flavor compared to the other items I've had.

We ordered a side of the sweet plaintains but they never arrived. The pitcher of sangria, on the other hand, made it to our table in swift fashion and was subsequently enjoyed throughout our meal. A pitcher was probably the perfect amount for 3 people.

This time I opted for the unremarkable fried chicken fritters and a tasty, perfectly cooked, nicely seasoned and appropriately portioned flank steak. Relatively boring plating, but the steak, with evenly spaced "fringe" cuts, was a winner.

Highlights: the steak, the mini paella (again) and the sangria.

5:32 PM  

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