I always bragged about all the amazing spots in Hell’s Kitchen when I lived there, and I still love going back to visit my old neighborhood. It’s always a little bit disconcerting to go back to an area I was once so familiar with and realize that everything has changed. On the other hand, some great new spots have emerged, and once such place is Sall Restaurant & Lounge.
It used to be that 10th Avenue sounded like a very far trek across town. Now with 9th Avenue being busy and bustling from the tourist spilling over from the Theater District, 10th Avenue is just a short walk over from all the noise, with excellent restaurant and bar options at every block. If you make your way up towards 10th Avenue and 55th, you’ll find yourself at a destination for comforting Southern cuisine.
Sall Restaurant & Lounge recently opened this past August by husband and wife team Isabella Nartey and Demba Sall, bringing in seafood and craft cocktails. Their desire was to bring to the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood an unpretentious spot for friends and family, with a focus on well-executed dishes of New American cuisine.
They tapped Executive Chef Jamell Williams, a seasoned chef with 15 years of experience in NYC restaurants, to helm the kitchen. Before Williams became a chef, he was actually a rapper. He switched gears and moved to Vegas to attend Le Cordon Bleu, and upon graduating he landed at Dinosaur BBQ in Harlem. He them moved to Jonathan Moore’s high-end burger joint, Stand4, and also into the world of fine dining with two years at Aquavit under Marcus Samuelsson followed by Le Cirque, before landing his first Executive Chef post at beloved Harlem speakeasy 67 Orange.
In yet another unexpected turn of events, he was cast as Bobby Flay’s sous chef on Iron Chef, and then won the pilot episode of Flay’s competition cooking show, 3 Days to Open. Most recently Williams was the Executive Chef at Ravi DeRossi’s Ladybird, and Candle Café. Needless to say, Chef Williams has an extensive career that he is bringing to us at Sall Restaurant & Lounge.
When you glance at the menu, you can already taste all of delicious Southern foods that are about to hit your taste buds. The first thing to catch my eye was the Fried Oyster Poutine. “What kind of crazy concoction is that?!” you may ask. Simply take buttermilk-fried p.e.i oysters and seasoned hand cut fries and slather on the poutine: salsa verde, cheese curds, beef gravy, and chives.
Since I love octopus, I couldn’t resist ordering the Charred Octopus, which is grilled Spanish octopus with baby potatoes and chorizo, with a white bean puree and herb gremolota. The octopus was tender and flavorful, a great starter to get your appetite going.
Other stand-out appetizers include the Buttermilk Calamari with pimento and garlic aioli, the Lobster Roll Sliders with Maine lobster, celery, green onions, mayo, arugula, and miso butter on toaste mini broche buns, as well as the Lobster n Truffle Mac n Cheese with grana padano, smoked gouda, New York cheddar, truffle oil, tarragon and toasted panko.
Their drink offerings include classic cocktail offerings such as a Manhattan, Negroni, Moscow Mule, and a Pisco Sour, but they also have their more interesting craft cocktails, ranging from light and fruity to spirit-forward. You’ll want to try them all: Too Cool for School (Crop cucumber vodka, St. Germaine, ginger ale, cucumber wheel garnish), The CEO (Jack Daniels, Sointreau, sweet vermouth, angostura bitters, brandied cherry and ice), and our favorite, Sall’s Peach-Tree Margarita (Herradura, peach liqueur, agave, fresh lime juice). Additionally there beers by the bottle and on draft, and a selection of red and white wines and champagne.
For the main entree I opted for the Seafood Linguine, a hefty portion of pasta surrounded by an array of seafood including mussels, lobster, shrimp, and even chorizo, in a tomato garlic sauce. If you are in the mood for seafood and a lot of it, this is the choice for you.
Our other entree was the Scallops, which came with three over-sized miso-glazed tender scallops with a side of black rice and surrounded by a creamy cauliflower puree. This was a very balanced dish of comfort and flavor.
Other stand-out dishes include the whole grilled red snapper with couscous, zucchini ribbon salad, cherry tomatoes, fennel, garlic and herb butter, and their Signature Burger made from Pat La Frieda chuck, short rib and hanger blend, caramelized onion, and their special sauce on toasted brioche. We’ll be back to try more dishes, along with the Sweet Potato doughnuts for dessert.
While the menu will change seasonally, the focus will remain on fresh seafood as a common theme. We hear for the colder months there will be gumbo…
Also newly launched is their weekend Southern bottomless brunch, which features eight – count them: EIGHT – different flavors of mimosas. I can’t even begin to imaging the different options, which means I will just have to try them all at some point. Brunch highlights include red velvet corn bread, Charleston Shakshuka baked eggs, and low country shrimp & grits. The brunch deal includes bottomless mimosas for an hour and a half with the purchase of one starter and one entree.
For a new, hip restaurant to impress a date with delicious food and craft cocktails or for a group brunch with friends, Sall Restaurant & Lounge is your new neighborhood spot.