Friday, April 8, 2011

Live a Little. Sin at a Minimum with Salt & Fat.

Sometimes it's best to ignore the Surgeon General, your mother, food labels, and your doctor.

A little Salt & Fat is good for you.

Braised Pork Belly Tacos
Sunnyside's newest upscale restaurant is drawing crowds, young foodies, and a cult following devoted to another little piggy over in the other borough. The concept of Salt & Fat follows a trend of small plates made for sharing. Come with a group or train for a few days of competitive eating before coming to Salt & Fat. The beauty lies within the variety of the flavors, the opportunity to design your own tasting menu, seasonal ingredients, and nods to hot spot establishments as well as influences from all over the world. Pico de gallo,  sriracha, basil... Each bite will take you through a variety of emotions and facial expressions. Sweet, salty, spicy... Everything is familiar and foreign at the same time. Salt & Fat has just the right balance between taking you on a culinary journey and making you feel right at home in good ol' Sunnyside. After all, Salt & Fat's origins stem from its chef/owner. Daniel Yi grew up in Sunnyside.

My party of five,  a group fond of communal meals, calculated that if we were to get everything on the menu, it would only cost us $30/head. A few sodas and three desserts to end, we had an over the top 19 course meal. Salt & Fat informed us that ever since they opened, there is at least one table a night who orders the whole menu. We did it for research, to test if Salt & Fat was worth coming back to, and of course, for the good of this blog post.

The food scene is filled with superstars. Salt & Fat does it's best version of flattery by incorporating signature dishes on it's menu. Though these were hits with the table, I found them rather mediocre in comparison to the real deals. Good enough, they are safe choices to add bulk to your meal without going wrong.

Short Rib Buns
Korean BBQ Wraps- Hanger Steak w/Pickled Daikon & Miso

Hampshire Pulled-Pork Sliders

Meatballs w/Spicy Tomato Sauce & Fried Basil

From flattery to common staples, Salt & Fat has something for everyone. The salads are fresh and can easily stand in as an entree. The Prince Edward Island Mussels are simmered in an Asian broth. The scallops are accompanied by a vibrant roasted carrot puree. The pappardelle pasta comes with a slow cooked egg. Less runny and a little firm, it fails to accomplish the same effect of what a little carbonara can do. In direct opposition to the egg is the Steak & Frites. Perfectly pink, the steak at Salt & Fat does come medium rare; a common request so easily ignored on purpose by many restaurants. Bravo Salt & Fat! I am also applauding your shallot custard which we mistook for smooth mashed potatoes.

Steak & Frites

Now that Salt & Fat has warmed up the crowd with a little this and that, the dishes get bolder and more solid in it's own right. My latest obsession is grapefruit thanks to Salt & Fat. The citrus pairing was awakening to the senses and I hope that as the seasons change Salt & Fat will transition their dishes. I'm looking forward to a berry salad in the Summer.
Lobster w/Citrus, Mixed Greens & Banyuls Vinaigrette

Yellowtail w/Pickled Jalapenos & Citrus

Two dishes were new and innovative. The Oxtail Terrine may as well be Michelin recognized. It resembles a brownie but is savory on top of roasted mushrooms. The oxtail is tender and falls apart to shreds once touched. It's rich and filling. The "Crack" & Cheese puts a new spin on the mac' and au gratin. "Crack" & Cheese is simply fried gnocchi topped with bacon chips and slathered in cheese bechamel sauce. 

"Crack" & Cheese
Oxtail Terrine w/Caramelized Onion Puree & Mushrooms

In terms of entrees, more impressive than the Hanger steak was the Whole Roasted Branzino and Half Bird Fried Chicken. The Branzino, despite it's bacon vinaigrette, actually felt like the healthy choice on the menu. It was simple and flavorful. The chicken was another story. I wouldn't be surprised if it was actually buttermilk fried. It was juicy and tender with delectable seasoned skin. 

Half Bird Fried Chicken w/Herb Ranch dipping sauce

Whole Roasted Branzino w/Bacon Vinaigrette & Greens
This makeshift chef's tasting menu wouldn't be complete without a sweet ending but sadly, I don't think sweet is Salt & Fat's specialty and rightfully so, since the emphasis is really on it's namesake. Salt & Fat incorporated rice crispies with homemade ice creams and sorbet (lychee, blood orange, yuzu buttermilk). That provided for a nice texture and a little crackle to the scoops. The flavors were actually really good just kind of lackluster overall as a dish. If you are to get one dessert, let it be the Lychee Panna Cotta. It was silky and the palate cleanser to all the conflicting and complimenting flavors of the night. To end the errors, I leave you with a little comedy which my table referred to as the $6 rice crispy. It was as hard as a rock and a little difficult to eat with utensils. 

Rice Krispies w/Marshmallow
I will not hate for a few did enjoy it for it's simplicity and roots of nostalgia. Ah, just focus on the main draws. They are plentiful enough that you won't even need dessert.  

41-16 Queens Blvd.
Sunnyside, NY 11104

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