A classic upper east side establishment, Set el Poivre has been open for 28 years, first with a mother-daughter team at the helm, and now run by a that daughter and her husband. Though remaining open for this many years is never an easy feat in New York, where restaurants come and go at the drop of a hat, it’s easy to see why Sel et Poivre has thrived in an otherwise tumultuous landscape.
The warmth of a family’s touch is present in everything from the soft lighting to the starched tablecloths. The approachable menu, consistent quality of food, and welcoming atmosphere explains why Set el Poivre has garnered a steady clientele of regulars over the years.
Here’s what we ate:
Celery Root Remoulade with Beets
By far the most innovative item we tasted, celery root is julienned using a spiralizer and doused in a light, vibrant curry sauce. More substantial than a zucchini noodle, the celery root absorbed the sauce well, and provided a bit of a crunch, making the dish texturally pleasing as well. The celery is then artfully placed over a round patty of chopped, blood red beets, resembling a tartare in both style and flavor profile. As someone who is not a fan of beets, I liked this dish immensely, and the artistry was present in every bite.
Fish Soup with Cheese Boats
I could have sworn I would love this dish, but I was a bit disappointed that this was not the bouillabaisse I was expecting. A garlicky bowl of broth arrived on the table, accompanied by thin slices of toasted baguette and a plate of shredded Swiss cheese. The instructions were to stack the cheese on the bread and then drop it into the steaming broth, which quite literally was a fish stew. It was tasty dish, but the lack of a protein would prevent me from ordering it in the future.
Brook Trout Almondine
This delicate, flaky fish is smothered with sliced almonds and a beurre blanc sauce, giving it an earthy, rich flavor that really elevates an otherwise simple fish entrée.
Leg of Lamb
Extremely tender and perfectly cooked, this lamb was so juicy and had so much flavor that I kept sucking on the bone in the hopes it would sprout more meat. It undeniably stole the show.
Steak au Poivre
True to its name (and the restaurant’s) this peppercorn studded meat did not disappoint. The table had a difficult time deciding which was better, the lamb or the steak, but any conversation that circles two heavy hitter meats is a conversation I want to be a part of.