Note: This is a review of Saul in its Boerum Hill location, which closed in July 2013. The restaurant is expected to re-open in the Brooklyn Museum in the fall. At the time I wrote this blog post, Saul had never had a full review in The New York Times. Pete Wells rectified that omission in 2009, awarding two stars.
I never would have tried Saul, but for its recently-acquired Michelin star. It is actually a very close trip from my apartment in lower Manhattan — two stops into Brooklyn on the A; change to the F across the platform, and then one stop to the corner of Bergen and Smith Streets. Saul is just a couple of steps down from the subway exit, in the Boerum Hill section.
The space is pleasant, but forgettable. The food is remarkable. You can see why the Michelin inspectors were impressed. We started with an amuse of hot curry soup. My companion and I both started with the smoky seafood chowder, which resembled a New England clam chowder, but with hefty chunks of smoked fish in the broth, and a helping of dainty micro-croutons served on the side. The soup was served in a slightly oval dish with its own ceramic cover, which the server removed tableside.
For the main course, my friend ordered the sliced ribeye, while I ordered an off-menu special called the Lamb Tasting. This consisted of lamb cooked four ways with a bed of mixed vegetables and spices. The two most memorable components of the dish were a lamb sausage and a shreded lamb confit inside a fluffy pastry.
For dessert, we both had the Baked Alaska, for which Michelin had printed the recipe in their guide. This was pleasant enough, although nowhere as memorable as what had gone before.
I don’t believe Saul carries a rating from the New York Times, but I have no hesitation in saying that the restaurant is serving three-star food — at least on the strength of this one visit. Dinner for two came to about $200 including tax and tip, which included a $45 bottle of wine.
Update: After I wrote this, Pascale Le Draoulec of The New York Daily News awarded Saul the identical rating that I did: 2½ stars.
Saul (140 Smith Street between Bergen & Dean Streets, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn)