My girlfriend and I made the trip from Manhattan to Forest Hills, Queens to go to Salut(e) Restaurant after reading a rave review in Gourmet Magazine. We absolutely went nuts on the ordering and probably worked up the biggest tab in the history of the restaurant for a 2-person table. Everything was unbelievably good, and, given that this type of food (Middle Eastern with localized Uzbek/Asian influences) is fairly simple to prepare, excellency is attained through careful attention to grilling, meat quality, and subtle seasoning. The menu is essentially broken into 4 categories: cold appetizers (including salads), hot appetizers, entrees (i.e., kebabs) and deserts.
We started with several salads, all priced at $5 or less for a large plate of extremely fresh, tasty vegetables or dips. The carrot salad is termed "Korean Carrot" because it is loaded with vinegary, peppery seasonings that bring tangy, sweetness to a mound of bright orange carrot shreds. The silky, creamy Hummus with strong flavors of sesame Tahini comes with a fresh coating of extra virgin on top. These two items combined with the "National" bread, a pillow of steaming bread with puffy edges inclining towards the center of the disc is an amalgamation of all four sensory tastes. After we finished these, we ordered another carrot salad to accompany the skewered meats to come.
From the hot appetizers, we ordered the Uzbek Mantu. Hot, fresh homemade dumplings with a mix of sweet onions and ground beef in the inside. On top of the dumplings is a sweetish soy sauce; the dumpling skins were homemade and so thin as to not destroy the delicious meat mixtures flavors on the insides.
For kebabs, we hit up almost everything. Starting with 4 different lamb kebabs: ground lamb, lulu kebab, ribs, and lamb breast. Perfectly charred, they arrive dry rubbed with spices on long metal skewers with a pile of sweet white onions. Heaven at first sight.....we also had the veal sweetbreads and beef kebabs; both excellent and enhanced with the sides of carrot salads and more smoky baba ghanoush.
For drink, we had a caraffe of semi-sweet georgian red wine. This was a great balance to the flavors of the meal.
Finally, for desert we had an order of each listed, 2 in total...the baklava was as good if not better than what I've tried in the Armenian/Greek sections of Los Angeles and the Lavs (an Uzbek national desert) is similar to a Halvah but more interesting with a pistachio coating. This was accompanied by a green tea and candied pineapple pieces. I couldn't believe the tab when it arrived; literally $59 for all we'd eaten....we went next door to a huge Russian bakery to pick up some fresh poppyseed cake and russian ice cream on our way home.