An Ode to Sel de Mer

No, I’m not referring to the sea salt, but to one of my favorite restaurants in Williamsburg. When Sel de Mer first opened on Graham, I was slightly annoyed. It replaced a little shop that had delicious Middle Eastern takeout foods like roasted chicken with lentils and a killer baba ghanoush. It was also a spot where I could get pao de queijo on the weekends, because the chef’s wife was Brazilian and made them herself.

I gave up being annoyed when I gave them a shot and had dinner there for the first time. I was not exactly impressed with the decor, with its standard cheap wood-topped tables and creaky restaurant chairs. But the fishermen watching over us from their aged, painted portraits made up for the furniture, and the whole roasted fish had me hooked. There really isn’t anything else like it in the neighborhood. True to their name, their specialty is seafood, and it’s the best stuff on the menu. They serve fish fillets with perfectly crisped skin atop seasonal vegetables and unexpected grains, mussels and clams in flavorful broths, crisp and fluffy fish and chips, oysters on the half shell for a buck fifty, steamed lobster with fries ($18!), and even a burger that rivals the best in the ‘hood. Not to mention, they serve this amazing butter with their bread, a pale yellow cube of deliciousness topped with a touch of sel de mer. Seriously, I crave the stuff all the time.

I loved the restaurant so much that at first I was worried it would close in its first months. But worry not, the place is now always packed when I walk by it on my way home from work. Their low prices ($18 for lobster!) and high standards remain, and no doubt draw people in daily. I like to say that it’s a Manhattan restaurant with Brooklyn prices and borough charm, and that’s what I hope it’ll always be.

Check out the menus on the Sel de Mer website.