Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Salt and fat and persimmons oh my

It has been a while since I've been excited enough about a meal to tell you about it, but now that time is here. R.-- and I had been trying to go to Salt & Fat in Sunnyside for, oh, about eight months or so, but only managed it last night. Which may be for the best, because the reviews we read in June suggested it was a bit hit or miss, but now it is all hit.

S&F does small plates so R.-- and I started with three of them. (We later upgraded to a fourth, shocking no one, possibly not even our waitress.) The persimmon salad--my suggestion--was perfect: arugula's bitterness tamed by honey-citrus vinaigrette, sliced persimmons, goat cheese, and oh-so-candied walnuts. My only quibble is that there was not much speck atop the salad; I would've liked more than a small slice. I quickly forgot about that in the general abundance of persimmon and walnut though. Even R.--, who is not generally a persimmon fan, was impressed.

Next came R.--'s choice, the yellowtail. It is sooort of sashimi-style but that description does not convey the beauty of the dish. Presented with the plate, we oohed and aahed. Little hunks of yellowtail spread in a long rectangle across the middle, topped with radish, scallions, and some type of paste redolent of sesame; around the fish were perfectly round dollops of yuzu gel and spicy mayo. Mix it all together, our waiter told us, upon hearing we were new to the dish; after R.-- took a picture, we did, and plunked heaping forkfuls atop the crackly cassava chips served alongside.

Pork belly tacos were not as much of a revelation but did not disappoint. The pork flavor was perhaps a little faint but the fat was blessedly not overpowering, the topping kimchi salsa not my absolute favorite but an interesting twist on a familiar dish. The tacos came three to an order, and after some debate, I split the third one right down the middle, open-face sandwich style, revealing the intricate architecture of cheese on salsa on cabbage on pork. The pickled onions heaped alongside looked just like jalapenos but tasted sweeter; I wish I'd realized how much they enhanced the tacos before I was on my second one.

Unable to resist, we added a small dish of pappardelle. The noodles and mushrooms were good, with abundant enokis--another quibble, not enough of the other kind of mushroom for me to say with any certainty what it was--but the real star of the dish was the slow-cooked egg, resplendent with its unrunny orange yolk. I wish I could cook like that.

Decadent to the end, we split marshmallow ice cream with rice krispies, another winner. Two giant rice krispy squares, served warm, bookended ice cream the very apotheosis of marshmallow flavor, with little krispy shavings at its base. Often I find that restaurant desserts don't live up to the excitement promised by the menu, or the price tag. This one, at $6, more than delivered on both.

I hope that we will venture to Salt & Fat again before eight months have passed.

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