Sun-Thu, noon-10:30pm; Fri-Sat, noon-11pm
6 at 68th St.-Hunter College; F at Lexington Ave.-63rd St.
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
54th St. to 74th St., First Ave. to Fifth Ave.
In a town famous for relentless creativity and giddy innovation, the small French bistro Sel & Poivre provides a comforting alternative: familiarity, along with a reliable menu. The dining room, in cheerful yellow, is accented with walnut paneling. Wall lamps with opaque flowerlike sconces illuminate, and simply framed black-and-white photos of thirties-era New York and Paris evoke a bygone day. The classic fare here gratifies without electrifying, which clearly charms a clientele who don’t want a side of thrills with dinner. The generally reliable kitchen leans to mainstream bistro fare: A mound of moules frites à la marinière, steeped in a bath of garlic, leeks, onions and white wine, make a nicely shareable appetizer. Entrées are likewise pleasing: Perfectly pink duck-magret slices are daubed with a subtle honey rosemary glaze, although a bed of diced apples doesn’t add much. Sautéed skate is moist, its beurre noir sauce spiked with tangy lemon juice and salty capers. Some might quibble with Sel & Poivre’s predictability, but given that the restaurant dates back to 1989, the conservative approach clearly has its admirers.Prix Fixe Dinner
Three courses served nightly, $27.95.Recommended Dishes
Moules frites à la marinière, $15.95; skate fish au beurre noir, $19.95