Sel de Mer: Salty Seafood Supper
Williamsburg is slowly creeping up on my list of favorite eating neighborhoods after my recent dinner at Sel de Mer, a casual seafood joint on Graham Avenue. A previously unexplored segment of Billyburg for me, around the intersection of Metropolitan Ave and Graham Ave yields several great finds (other than the neon 24hr White Castle) from sexy Mexican at Mesa Coyoacan to rustic Provencal at Fanny to classic Italian at Cono & Son. Without using too many stereotypes here, Sel de Mer embodies the laidback super-casual yet culturally-aware throbbing heart of Williamsburg.
On a quiet block outside the busy ‘just-over-the-bridge’ mini-hood near Bedford Street, Sel de Mer or ‘sea salt’ lurks. A tiny space, the dining room seats just 28 plus 4 seats at the bar. Blue painted siding and warm yellow walls evoke sand and sea, while nautical knick-knacks and a bold fishy smell hammer it home that Sel de Mer serves seafood and, really, only seafood. The most complicated part of the restaurant is the mess of tattoos on the three artfully-disheveled servers.
Made out of the covers of old library books, the menu is a greatest hits compilation of classic seafood dishes. Everything from mussels mariniere to fish & chips to fish cakes to shrimp & lobster cocktail is there and for under $15. The specials menu also yields a few gems including the sea scallops on a bed of bacon creamed spinach, oysters, tuna carpaccio, a whole dorade, a whole grouper, and grilled bronzino. Generous portions, loads of crusty sea salt, and fresh flavor-packed proteins make Sel de Mer a neighborhood keeper. The highlights reel includes mounds of fish & chips in the perfect light crusty batter showered in malt vinegar, five dainty and super caramelized sea scallops perched atop savory and delightly mushy cream of spinach, and the hulking rounds of juicy fried green tomatoes served with brie, lemon juice, and saffron aioli.
As a Bostonian and a Cape Codder at heart, I can vouch for the quality omnipresent in the seafood at Sel de Mer; these seafood classics are done right with few unnecessary trimmings. It’s just good-tasting food for rock-bottom prices in a charmingly residential neighborhood – not to mention, the bottles of wine will blow your mind, often priced for under $30 – what more could you want from a casual restaurant?
Perfect For: fish and malt vinegar cravings, casual dinner out in the neighborhood, late in the game date with no need to impress, brooklyn adventurings, pre-game feast