Had an amazing lunch at Sel de la Terre today. We arrived at 1:30 and had the full attention of our wonderful waitress and the kitchen as we were one of only two full tables in the entire place.
I am sure this had a lot to do with the quality of the food, but I thought it was the best value meal in Boston (the lunch prices are a steal).
Started with a wonderful french onion soup since we were soaked to the bone in this nasty weather. It had a pleasant tang from sherry vinegar and a nice toothsome grilled toast. My only issue with the soup was that the cheese was melted, but not browned. Not sure if it was worth $8, but we enjoyed it.
Steak frite was to die for -- medium-rare hanger with serious beefiness and melt in your mouth texture. Perfectly seasoned and served with their great thin fries. I don't think you can get steak this good for $14 anywhere else in Boston.
Seared striped bass with olive oil potato puree, roasted turnips, spinach, and beef jus sounded too good not to try. But when I ordered it, our waitress told us that they were out of bass and it was going to be cod. I was a bit disappointed since cod is so tasteless compared to striped bass, but I got it anyway. Wow -- what a dish. Searing and beef jus was just what was needed to fix cod's shortcomings. It was moist and delicate, and flavorful enough for winter comfort food. Again -- only $14.
A glass of Oregon pinot noir ($9) was great with the steak and even fish. And we just couldn't pass by their wine by the glass special of Portugese rose for only $2 a glass. A bit bubbly and spicy, it was good enough for us to ask for the second glass.
Creme brulee with 2 good cookies (one chewy and one shortbread like) was just right -- creamy and done in a shallow ramekin so that every bite could have some paper thin sugar crust ($8.50)
The only disappointment was the hazelnut chocolate crepe cake that wasn't on the menu, but available in the bakery. It sounded like a good idea, but the crepes were a bit hard and didn't really taste like crepes (yes, I know, hard crepes does sound strange). It was $4 or 5.
And of course, no meal at Sel de la Terre is complete without their great bread. Fig anise is my favorite, but all of them are commendable.
Total damage was $73 before tax and tip. It was one of the better meals I've had in a long time.
Though, a word of warning. We seem to have consistently great experiences at SDLT during lunches, and consistently mediocre experiences on wine wednesdays (this place is a zoo). In fact, I haven't been back on a wine wednesday in 2 years. And I've never been for a normal dinner. Our waitress told us that if we want to come for dinner, sunday night is a good time. When this place fills up on weekends, it gets really loud, so in spite of our great experience at lunch, we are not rushing there for dinner.