Salt & Fat
American in Queens
We've accepted the challenge of hitting Queens more often in 2K14, and Salt & Fat was at the top of our Hit List. Salt & Fat's reputation precedes it. Our trusted community on Twitter has been urging us to hit this place forever, and, for what it's worth, it was the only Sunnyside restaurant to make the Michelin Guide's "Bib Gourmand" list. Also, the name is awesome. Salt and fat - our bodies prefer it to moisturizer.
We've all seen the Salt & Fat movie before. A catchy name inside a pig logo, serving up a swine-centric menu with a side of Asian flair. In Manhattan and Brooklyn, they're a dime a dozen, but out in Queens, not so much. The difference between dining at a hot restaurant in Manhattan and a hot restaurant in Sunnyside is like night and day. Salt & Fat is easily the coolest restaurant in a five mile radius, and even though there's a no reservation policy, you can walk in and get a table with zero issue during prime time. They greet you with free bacon popcorn, drink prices aren't insulting, and you can eat like kings and queens for under $50 a head. They're also the only restaurant we've ever been to that serves Thousand Island dressing with everything. Salt & Fat doesn't go out of their way to impress with a slick design like the others either. Instead, what you have is a restaurant that was probably once a used DVD store, and all they did to the space was add a kitchen and a bunch of pig paraphernalia. The orange lighting and stained drop ceilings remain, and make Salt & Fat feel more like a Chinatown dive than a any place a "gourmand" would dine. God, we hate that word.
The truth is, we wanted to love Salt & Fat more than we actually did. Every dish on the menu reads like a carnivore's delight, and while some items are incredible, like the BLT buns and the crispy pork trotter, others, like the pork belly and the fried chicken, completely miss the mark. If we lived in the neighborhood, we'd certainly be eating here all the time. However, we can't suggest making a specific trip out here on the 7-train just to eat another pork bun and lots of Thousand Island dressing.
“Shaved” Hudson Valley Foie Gras
We love a good shaved foie dish, and this one looked good on paper. The foie was excellent and the bacon brittle and cinnamon were a nice touch, but the mandarin oranges tasted like they were from a can, which is a problem.
Impressive scallop presentation and a ridiculous roasted carrot puree with truffled corn salsa and capers. The scallops got a little charred on the outside, but that didn't affect the insides, which were firm, soft, and sweet all at the same time. Definitely order it.
Korean BBQ Wraps
This was a big winner. Marinated hanger steak in a miso sauce with pickled daikon in a crisp butter lettuce wrap. We could have eaten four of these each.
Dare we say we've been a little bunned out from too many trips to Ippudo lately, but for some reason we weren't overly excited to eat these. That quickly changed upon first bite. The BLT buns from Salt & Fat are among the best pork buns in the game. Braised, soft bacon belly on a soft boa with just the right amount of bun and, of course, Thousand Island dressing billed as "spicy mayo." The "spicy mayo" is actually the key to this bun, too.
Crispy Berkshire Pork Trotter
Our favorite dish of the night. A salad of pigs feet is molded into a fried oval and topped with a slow cooked egg. It's super rich, but not too heavy or swine-tasting, which is nice. And of course it comes with "spicy mayo"/Thousand Island.
Roasted Berkshire Pork Belly
Judging by the amount of pig present on the Salt & Fat menu, we assumed the pork belly was going to be the crown jewel of the menu. Not so much. It certainly represented the "fat" portion of the menu though, as their belly was half chewy blubber, and also had a thick stickiness to it that was unappetizing and hard to get over. Let's just say we didn't go back for a second bite on this one.
The fried chicken was rough. The skin was filmy and tasted like a big uncooked cluster of breadcrumbs, which really made the chicken borderline inedible. The best part of this dish was that it was the "herb ranch" dressing for dunking purposes, aka Thousand Island.
Long Island Duck Breast
We loved the duck entree. A huge portion of rare cooked quack, accompanied by excellent compliments in butter lychee, grilled frisée and sweet & sour jus. Get some.
We tried all three, the Lychee Panna Cotta with Yuzu Buttermilk Sorbet, the Rice Krispies Treats with Marshmallow Ice Cream and the Spiced Carrot Cake with White Chocolate Ice Cream and none of them were particularly memorable. The yuzu buttermilk ice cream was our favorite, but we wouldn't bother ordering any of these again.