SEL ET GRAS
31 Seventh Avenue South at the corner of West 10th Street
One Sunday morning, like a hungry lioness, I awoke with an irrational craving for steak tartare—not exactly a dish you'd typically find on any ol' Sunday brunch menu. But I knew where to go. My boyfriend (now ex) had mentioned a newish French restaurant in the West Village called Sel et Gras just the day before. When I insisted that there were no new restaurants on that particular corner, he described it as a slice of graffiti'ed real estate located behind a kiosk selling African clothing. Lo and behold, there it was.
Their steak tartare was the perfect portion for one: fresh cuts of beef, hand-diced and mixed with sharp Dijon mustard, capers, onions, and other traditional mish-mash. It was plated like a fancy scoop of gelato next to a delicately poached egg. A tiny ceramic crockpot of chips gaufrette (waffle-cut) provided a salty crunch. I was a happy lioness.
The restaurant's manager, Matthieu, a handsome Frenchman, sat on a barstool nearby and chatted with me about food, adoringly and passionately. "The French don't eat brunch, therefore we don't have traditional brunch dishes," he said, "So, to tailor our menu, we just added an egg to everything." Ah. That explains the poached egg. In that case, looking at the menu again, I'll have to return for the escargots bourguignon... Which comes with a baked egg!