Having spent part of my childhood in Malaysia, I grew up appreciating Western food cooked well, as when done poorly in an Asian country, it can taste very very wrong! Some of my fondest memories include visiting Lafite in Shangri La KL on special occasions and gorging on breadsticks, slices of baguette, escargots and fresh sorbet in between courses. While the style of Lafite tends towards fine dining, the largest impression that it left on my young palate was this equation: Snails = Yummy.
So what does this have to do with Sel et Poivre? Well, escargots are a bit of a rarity here in Sydney. It's hard to find them in groceries, and almost as hard to find them in restaurants. This meant I was all excitement at the prospect of seeing a dozen snail shells sitting on a silver platter immersed in garlic butter sauce.
Sel et Poivre is situated on that strip of Darlinghurst that everyone visits to eat at Gelato Messina, the Victoria Room, Wow Cow, etc. We were greeted by a friendly waitress who gave us the option of selecting where to sit. We decided on outdoor seating, facing the street.
|Watching the world go by...|
And so our orders were taken and the escargots arrived, bathed in parsley and garlic butter sauce. I was pretty disappointed that they came without the shells - though serving only a decorative function, part of the fun in eating snails is extracting them with tongs and miniature prongs! The texture was slightly chewy, as it should be, and the sauce didn't overpower the seafood flavour of the snail meat. Nevertheless, there was something missing - maybe there was too little garlic? I can't really place my finger on it.
|Escargots - 1/2 Dozen ($9.90)|
|Basket of 1/2 baguette ($3.50)|
|Beef cheeks ($23.90)|
|Steak tartare ($19.90)|
All in all, Sel et Poivre is worth a try. The decor is charming, the service is friendly, the food is alright and the portions are generous (and I think I actually heard some French being spoken on the premises). However, from what I've tasted, it's not so memorable that I would actually revisit it (particularly with all the other tempting restaurants nearby).