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Restaurants & Bars 1

Saul, a big yes

R Bergen | Oct 16, 1999 11:04 PM

Wanted to write this up while still enjoying the aftereffects of a very good dinner.
someone posted a note here a few weeks ago, and admitted that they were related to the chef.

Well, their report was on the mark, despite that.

Saul is on Smith near Bergen, which is a fairly barren stretch compared to all the places further down the street. The decore is simple but notably more refined than anyplace else nearby. Even the menu's are works of art. But not at all pretentious. It was odd, but most people were also just a bit dressier than you find in our neighborhood.

I was encourraged by the bread, a simple walnut bread with just a bit of sour tang to it. This was joined by a little gift to amuse us from the chef, a salmon terrine with tiny greens and a simple herb dressing. Wonderful salmon flavor and sure left you with high hopes for what was to come.

I had been to the Grocery just a couple of weeks ago, and it has a similar menu; but had been disappointing. So I tried the duck confit here as well for an appetiser to compare. Here you received a legand thigh on a bed of tiny lentils with a slightly vinegrary dressing. The skin was good and crisp and the duck very moist and tasty. This with a salad could be a meal for some.

My wife had an arugula and tomato sald with croutons with goat cheese. Good ripe tomato and low key, but tasty herb dressing, basil predominant.

For the entre I had scallops and she had salmon.

[the menu is small, about five entres with two specials. Fish predominates, with roast chicken and steak as the other choices.]

I'm not overly fond of scallops, but now I know I couldn't have had really fresh scallops cooked just right. No fussing around. Seared to a crisp brown on top and bottom, and just cooked through. Wonderfully sweet, and you couldn't help imagining an oceany salt water taste -- of the freshest kind. They were served with a leek and corn mixture and mashed/pureed potatoes.

My wife had the seared salmon. Again, the fish was left to speak for itself. But grilled perfectly. My wife liked it too much to share more than a bite, so I can't say acurately what it was served with.

Saul and Grocery share a similar menu, and focus on fresh ingredients. But the difference is like night and day. The other big plus was service. It's hard to tell if it was just our waitress or the whole staff. But service in all the restaurants in the area is fairly mediocre, and often a problem. Here it was attentive and professional, always right there when you needed it. What a change.

We were really fortunate to get in without a reservation, and on weekends they are probabably a must, especially as word of mouth starts going.

Dessert was not as strong. I had the lemon custard cake. This is served in a ramekin, and has a strong tart lemon flavor. It doesn't have the bitter or metalic aftertaste you sometimes get with lemon, but I think most people will find it too unrelievably tart. Maybe a good dollop of sweetened whipped cream would help.

My wife had the baked alaska, but the merangue seemed underdone. The table next beside us had the chocolate cake and pistachio parfait. Seemed very happy with it, and was definityly big enough to share with a friend.

Entres were between $15 and $20, starters, $5-$8, desserts $5.

As we had a full meal it came to $35 a person, and worth every penny. Can't wait to go back. Dinner is served unto 11 Mon through Sat and 10:30 on Sundays, according to our waitress.

If you go, sure hope your meal is as good as ours.


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