Dinner at Sel Rrose

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Sel Rrose, at the intersection of Bowery and Delancey, starts off at the intersection of post-war France and postmodern, rustic charm. Translucent, factory style windows soften the sunlight, pulling it into a dance across exposed brick walls and pink pastel accents. Butcher block tables frame the space, and the ambiance and the selfies you take will leave you looking like the person Marie Antoinette would want to be. I could see myself there, on a Saturday afternoon, laughing about my week with a beautiful, charming date. And, I could just as easily see myself partying.

The air had a kind of promise, a promise to leave you serenely happy no matter how you spent your time. There were no expectations, in the best sense of the term, because anything good could, and would, happen. It was exactly the place I had hoped to find when I set out to scout SoHo sites for our next Fashion360 Brunch. Now, all that was left to figure out was to see whether it made good on its promise.

It started, like all good meals, with cocktails. Their menu changes seasonally, but, for the moment, the three must-haves are Velvet Morning, The Fountain, and Lavender Piscine. The first one blends the buoyant decadence of coconut and orange blossom with the aromatic zing of pineapple, lime, and chamomile-infused pisco. The second one – my personal favorite – pairs uber-vogue gin and pink peppercorn syrup with a gourmand staple, grapefruit. The last one, by some miracle, finds a way to infuse champagne with herbes de Provençe. Rustic. Metropolitan. To die for.

And so was the food. The lobster roll melted in your mouth, an all you can eat, four-star seafood buffet nuzzled between warm slices of ciabatta. From the second I picked the roll up off the plate, I don’t think it ever left my hands. Ditto for the oysters, which all had that perfectly fresh hint of brine that makes the back of your throat tingle in anticipation. The duck confit was succulent and fork tender, and paired with a nutty, crunchy melange of farro and fennel. The only complaint – and it’s a minor one – would be that the skin could be just a little crispier. And I say that only because I know how well Sel Rrose can do crispy. The chickpea fries, with Parmesan and thyme crust, were easily my favorite thing I’ve eaten all month. I still don’t understand why the chefs didn’t just keep it all to themselves.

Of course, however good the food, and the drinks, and the atmosphere may be, the heart of a Parisian wine bar is always going to be the people. It’s going to be the conversations you have with the bartender, who has spent the past three years writing his thesis on Benjamin’s appreciation of fashion as aesthetics. It’s going to be the relaxed mood which your hostess by day, musician by night sets from her first smile. It’s going to be fashion designers, and models, and you, and me. It’s going to be here, at the Fashion360, later this month.

Until then, au revoir.