The nature of our job makes it difficult to regularly revisit restaurants. And yet, we can rarely resist the pull of Maison Premiere; especially if we’re anywhere near the eatery between 4-7pm, when we can avail ourselves of absinthe cocktails, and its preeminent oyster happy hour. And so, we’ve been hawkishly following the progress of its long anticipated little sibling, Sauvage, which finally debuted in the desirable, easily accessible Lokal space, mere steps from the subway and directly facing McCarren Park.
But while the reliably stylish establishment comes courtesy of the same James Beard Award-winning team (co-owner Joshua Boissy designed the bright and bouncy Art Nouveau-inspired space; Krystof Zizka’s wine list exclusively features natural, sustainable, bio-dynamic varietals; Bar Director Will Elliott sidelined absinthe for low ABV spirits; and staff wear jaunty blue bandanas and stretchy jeans, instead of fishnets, bowties and kitten heels) it’s hardly a mini me of MP. Which, we would imagine, comes as something of a relief to chef and partner Lisa Giffen, who, despite having more than made her mark at the restaurant with spectacular seafood small plates, has long suffered under the shadow of impeccable dollar oysters.
So since Sauvage’s daily bivalve selection is abbreviated enough to be recited by a server—rather than arranged on a checklist—diners can now fully appreciate what Giffen has to offer. Working within the wild theme (encaged in the name Sauvage) she acquiesces with a few raw, under-the-sea offerings, such as fat, firm sea urchins, orange as traffic cones, propped in their spiny shells atop flecks of rhubarb and radish. But vegetables and non-mollusk proteins get considerably more play; as in a terrine composed entirely of leeks, and an opaque cylinder of silvery hake, wrapped in a coil of crisped kombu (clams serve as mere accent in each). And most items actually eschew shellfish completely: from smoked squab paired with sour turnips and offal pie; to pig head confit teamed with yellow eyed peas and stone fruit; to pastry-encased pots of herbs and flowers, bathed in a golden vin jaune.
We’ll never forsake our first love, Maison Premiere, but we have a feeling it will be tough to ignore the siren call of Sauvage.
905 Lorimer St., Greenpoint
All photos by Kelsey Mitchell