I don't go to French restaurants as much as I would love to. But one of the restaurants that has been on my wishlist for a very long time has been Cafe Sel Et Poivre (aka Sel Et Poivre) especially after hearing the praises of its classic French bistro fare and of course, the creme brulee. Situated on the competitive restaurant district of Victoria Street in Darlinghurst (and not too far from the Cross), Cafe Sel Et Poivre has stood the test of time with little menu and decor changes over the years.
The restaurant has been around for more than a decade, which is a rare feat considering the many other restaurants closing its doors in a year or less these days. The decor wasn't too fancy especially with our table sitting on a rough slope but it had its charms especially the old fashioned lamps attached on the walls. Since it was a friend's birthday and there was a big group, we ended up getting a $55 set menu of three courses.
Fontanet Les Terrasses Premium
Enjoyed the wine. Not too rich or intense with a slightly fruity aftertaste. Suitable for meat, cheese and spicy dishes (according to the epic research we did that evening. True story). Definitely enjoyed a few glasses of this red wine.
Crispy galette of fresh swimmer crab, leeks and sauce a l'americaine ($17.50)
If fried ice cream was savoury and stuffed with swimmer crab instead of ice cream then this would be it. The pastry on the outside was thin and crispy with lots of flaky layers. However, when you cut into the galette, there was that succulent, hot and shredded swimmer crab bursting out of the flaky pastry. It even tasted nice with the not-too-creamy bisque-like sauce. Initially I wasn't sure if I wanted to get this but I was glad that I picked this as my entree in the end.
Marinated braised beef cheeks with Miramar Cab/Sauv sauce and frites ($27.90)
The braised beef was very tender and soaked into the thick and rich Cab/Sauv sauce, which basically a bacon, cognac and port sauce. Seriously can't get enough of the beef that melts away in your mouth though the assorted veggies do add a lovely crunch to this dish. So good to have as a warm, comfort dish during the Winter seasons...or any other season that acts like Winter (like this week. Far out).
The main that I picked came with a generous serving of pommes frites on the side. Since it was shoestring fries, it immediately reminded me of a certain restaurant corporation but damn they actually got very addictive especially when dipping them into the sauce.
Authentic creme brulee with fresh vanilla beans ($13.90)
The braised dish was so rich and intense that I wasn't sure if I could handle the dessert. Since it was already part of the set menu, we had no choice but to continue. Also because of creme brulee. Cannot resist this at all. While I was battling my stomach as I divulge into this rich dessert, I drooled at the creamy and sweet egg custard. And I always enjoy cracking onto that brulee topping, which is an essential part of a winning creme brulee. It was no wonder that most of us weren't keen to share even though we were full.
While this wouldn't be the restaurant I would go to on a regular basis since the prices were on the more expensive end, the dishes were quite delicious, service was friendly and cheeky, and the creme brulee was too good to miss. As we only got a set menu with a limited selection of dishes, there was still a few classic French bistro dishes that I'm keen to try on my next visit such as the snails (oooh yeaah), country style pate, pork and duck rillettes and the steak tartare. According to the website it opens from very early in the morning to very late at night so check it out if you need a morning French breakfast or a late night supper session.
Cafe Sel Et Poivre
263 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst NSW 2010
(02) 9361 6530
Mon-Thurs: 6:30am - 11:30pm
Fri: 6:30am - 1:30am
Sat: 6:30am - midnight