Time Out says
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Maison Premiere is a great bar moonlighting as a great restaurant. The award-winning cocktail bona fides (James Beard, Time Out Bar Awards) are well matched in chef Lisa Giffen’s lovely fish-forward fare at Joshua Boissy and Krystof Zizka’s iconic Williamsburg spot. Maison’s sunny sister, Sauvage, however, is a great bar masquerading as a great restaurant.
That’s not to say you can’t have a good meal at this Greenpoint follow-up, named after the French word for “wild”—you certainly can, especially with Giffen in the kitchen. But a dinner in the handsome dining room—as smartly dressed as its sibling, with potted ferns, handblown glass chandeliers and plenty of French walnut—can leave you with the unshakeable feeling that you’d have a better time at the white-marble bar.
And that’s not just because of the beverage program, considerable though it is; Maison barman Will Elliott oversees a selection of 200-plus small-batch spirits, low-proof cocktails and even up to six varieties of ice (elongated cubes reserved for highballs, crushed nuggets for cobblers). It’s because most of the orderworthy dishes issued from Giffen’s kitchen are just the sort of ambitious yet let-loose small plates made for picking at over drinks.
Pad out several rounds of the Sloe Moon’s Rose cocktail ($13)—as cheerfully pink as the starchy button-down on your waiter’s back—with tangy, house-milled sourdough rolls that are warm with cumin and spread liberally with yogurt butter ($2.50 each); a light and bright carrot carpaccio, the ribbons of the root veg tangled with crunchy buckwheat and carrot-top gremolata ($9); or garlicky sunchokes tossed in a vinaigrette with a zesty edge that comes from Italy’s ’nduja sausage ($12). Compared to the 25-variety oyster selection at Maison, Sauvage’s raw-bar options are spare (only five items, ranging from queen crab to fluke crudo), but plucky Carabinero prawns with creamy saffron aioli ($14) do well to distract from the lack of diversity.
Things get less low-key and more self-serious once the mains come around: Who decided to burst our cocktail-fueled bubble with a $135 steak? You can skip that overpriced tomahawk for two, as well as its more populist skirt-steak cousin ($27), which arrives unforgivably tough, even with a medium-rare center. We’d rather spend time with a bowl of al dente squid-ink garganelli, varnished in robust cuttlefish ragù ($25), than with the lobster, dulled by a lifeless blood sauce ($28), or the confit pig’s head ($65), which is waiter-sold with reverence even though it sports more wobbly fat than tender meat. Not that we really heard him—our ears were too trained to the icy shake of the cocktail tumblers, beckoning us to the bar.
905 Lorimer St
|Cross street:||between Nassau and Norman Aves|
|Price:||Average main course: $25|
|Opening hours:||Mon–Thu, Sun 5pm–midnight; Fri, Sat 5pm–1am|
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