Fleur de Sel, Nov. 2, 2005

Fleur de Sel
5 E. 20th Street

So this is a Michelin Guide 1 star restaurant?

I can understand that the cute and cozy room, (just disregard the chef's ego - his own paintings have a majority stake on the walls - at least I'm nearly positive they were signed Cyril Renaud, someone correct me if I'm wrong) the service style (we'll get to actual service in a minute) and perhaps other dishes helped it out but I fail to see how Eleven Madison Park didn't get a 1 star if this place did. (And I don't think EMP deserves one).

The room at EMP, though much larger, is dramatic and worthy of merit, the service style is slightly different but not much and the food is nearly identical, though I prefer what I've had at EMP on any occasion.

Lunch Tasting Menu

Sweetbread ravioli, Spinach Coulis, Madeira & Cepe Sauce

Where were the sweetbreads? Cutting open each of the two raviolis, I saw spinach and tiny flecks of meat that was presumably sweetbreads. This dish was bland at best. The presentation was lovely but even the sauce was subtle.

Roasted Black Cod, Blue Hubbard Squash & Chestnus, Maple-Red Wine Sauce

It's official, I don't like cod. Blech. What a lousy tasting fish. It seemed to be cooked right, it looked beautiful, the squash and chestnuts were just okay and the sauce was lovely, but the fish was just not my thing. Though a recent quote from the Chef in the NYTimes makes me nervous. I wish I'd seen this before I ate the fish there:

To save money, Renaud prowls the Fulton Fish Market himself instead of paying a purveyor a premium and a fuel surcharge for delivery. "I can't keep raising prices," he says. "I'm going to hang on as much as I can for as long as I can."

Guess what. It shows.

Poached Pear, Port Wine Jus, Sable Brittany Cookie, Hazelnut Ice Cream

By far the best dish. The cookie and hazelnut ice cream together tasted similar to those do-se-do Girl Scout cookies. Delicious. The pear was excellent and looked very, um, aphrodesical (is that a word?), or feminine.

Riesling, Schloss Gobelsburg Kamptal Kremstal, Austria 2004.

This was the suggested pairing with the cod. The wine was good but in no way did it help or pair well with the cod.

I waited at the door (12:15) for quite some time until a hostess showed up. When she did, she was very helpful and pleasant. The captain/waiter (the only one taking food/drink orders) was overly pleasant to which made me think that I'd rather have been here pre-Michelin star. I did, however, congratulate him on the star, to which he replied thanks and that it was an exciting time for them. The servers on the other hand look completely out of place, they mumbled incoherently and simply didn't look the part. Wow. Very surprised with that.

I bet this place is excellent for dinner. The menu looked quite nice and I'm sure the chef actually cooks at night (he wasn't cooking at lunch but was in house), but if you want a prix fixe lunch with a glass of wine in the Gramercy area, go to Eleven Madison Park.

Compared to my other recent 1 star dining experiences (Babbo and Wallse last week), I think Wallse had the better food though Babbo was the better overall experience. Fleur de Sel doesn't match up in either category.


Blogger Mona said...

Nice review, guess I won't be rushing to get here. Good to know because I had thought about it. I agree with you on EMP. I really loved that place. And I tried sweetbreads there for the first time :)

1:48 PM  

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