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Great food, REALLY pricey wine list

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We LOVE the food at Fleur de Sel. The poussin in foie gras sauce is divine, parsnip soup with chestnut ravioli is spectacular, and the apple crepe should be served in the afterlife; in fact, everything on the menu is outstanding. The room is very simple, but pleasant; not a haute dining experience.
The food is expensive but definitely a good value for the quality. We'd dine there with much greater frequency if it weren't for the VERY expensive wine list. They have huge mark-ups and even the waiter said, "There's basically nothing under $100". There are, however, bottles for $10,000. We understand that restaurants need a healthy mark up on drinks and wine. It would be nice to see a wider price range on the wine list. As it is, the wine list is a deterrent to dining.
Other restaurants with this issue? More interestingly, can Chowhounders recommend restaurants with great food and welcoming wine lists?

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  1. Allen and Delancey is a good example of this. Very high markups and little choice in the lower range. Luckily they also have some excellent beers that pair well with the food so we order those instead. We just had dinner at Bar Blanc last night. We had been twice before and I thought then that the wines were awfully pricey, but now they seem to have added quite a few in the under $50 range. We had a pretty good St. Chinian for $46. Olana also has some very good choices in this range. Babbo is another that I find quite reasonable, and even Cru, which has so many high-end wines, also has good picks in the $50 to $75 range, not bad for a restaurant of its caliber.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rrems

      It's been a couple of years since I've been there, but Cru has had interesting choices for even less than $50. I once ate in the bar and ordered the cheapest bottle on the list---$28! The sommelier came by and complimented me on my unusual choice---a pineau d'aunis from the Coteaux de Loir---and we had a nice chat about wine.
      Lupa, Otto, and inoteca are also places that have good wine choices in the lower price ranges.

    2. Mas is another restaurant that falls into this category. Not a single wine under $50 on their short list last time I was there.

      1. Well, I'd recommend Fleur de Sel -- IF you get the $29 prix fixe lunch or the six-course dinner menu. You can then get a wine pairing, with a glass of wine with each course for about $20 more.

        La Sirene, while not in the same league as Fleur de Sel, is amazingly welcoming and is BYOB. No corkage fee. www.chowhound.com/topics/501523

        1. There are many expensive bottles on their list, but you exaggerate how few there are at the low end. There are some fifty or sixty bottles under $100, and a good few under $50. That should be enough for most diners. Mark-ups up to 300% are common in New York restaurants, and I don't think Fleur de Sel's mark-ups are unusual.

          http://www.fleurdeselnyc.com/fleurdes...

          2 Replies
          1. re: Wilfrid

            Such a markup is not uncommon and I believe most restaurants would go bankrupt without their drink profits.

            1. re: Wilfrid

              And I'm not sure if they still have it but they used to offer a Monday night wine series where certain bottles were half off.

            2. Unfortunately, we are not exaggerating the wine list prices; in fact , the waiter himself confirmed that there were virtually no choices under "three digits" and while they used to have a special "basket" of specially priced wines, they no longer have this nor are the wines priced differently on Monday nights. We are all aware that restaurants need alcohol sales to survive. We wish that Fleur de Sel, which we love and want to thrive and which was nearly empty last Thursday evening, would have a wider range of wine prices so that we would drop in much more frequently.

              1 Reply
              1. re: rifbat

                As I said, go for lunch, order the wine pairing, and your total food + wine bill will be under $50.