44-16 Queens Boulevard
Sunnyside, NY 11104
(718) 433-3702

Sunnyside has seen an explosion of restaurants in the last few years. Frankly, it's embarrassing how many new places have sprouted up since I live in Forest Hills, the Queens nabe which should be the premier place to set up a restaurant given the express subways, the LIRR, and the amount of money the area has. Oh well. 'Tis not to be... yet. In the meantime, along hath come Salt & Fat, a small plates restaurant right off the 7 Train that focuses almost to a crazy degree, on pork. If you don't like pork or won't eat it for religious reasons, you might as well just skip off to some other blog, because, odds are, you won't read about anything you can eat here. If, however, you like pork, even in your popcorn, then read on, dear reader, read on.

Upon entering this otherwise not-too-big establishment, you will be given not bread, but bacon popcorn. Yes, bacon popcorn. Essentially, it's popcorn popped in bacon fat which leaves it a hint of what you might otherwise get at breakfast while spending the weekend with your parents. Pike, who I went here with, thought they should drizzle bacon fat on the bag they give you like it was butter, then maybe tossing in Bacos. To seal the deal. Personally, I think this goes a wee bit overboard, but you get the idea. They have a bit of a pork fetish.

As I said, Salt & Fat is a small plates place, and though they do have three regular entrees, Pike and I stuck with the smaller, appetizer sized ones. We ordered eight. This was too many. In retrospect, three each would be wise. Four each, even though split in half, was enough to make us feel a little ill. In any event, here's what we ordered, in the order in which we ordered them.

First up, the Meatballs. Holy shit, were these sick. Absolutely disgustingly good. A blend of beef, pork and (unfortunately) veal, and topped with a light and sweet and flat-out perfect sauce, we couldn't say enough good things about this dish. This was followed by the Korean BBQ Wraps, super-fresh lettuce around a filling of hangar steak pickled onion and spicy mayonnaise. Very good, but mild. It's small and you'll eat the whole plate of them before you realize that there was ever a plate in front of you.

The Braised Pork Belly Tacos, with pico de gallo, kimchi salsa and cheese came next. Although Pike didn't mind it, I didn't much like the dish at all. The pork belly was virtually all fat and it was a bit like eating a slime taco. The server suggested we sprinkle the jalapenos into it and this made the dish far more tolerable. Luckily, the tacos were followed by the Hampshire Pulled-Pork Sliders, shredded pork in a barbecue sauce with pickles. And these, my friends, were fantastic. Not too sloppy, not too dry, just the perfect amount of melt in your mouth pork in a sweet bun.

The next set of two plates started with the Oxtail Terrine, a cube of shredded oxtail meat in a caramelized onion puree with roast mushroom. This was the one dish that really isn't made to be shared. We cut it in half, but I think you should order two. And by that I mean: don't go to Salt & Fat without ordering the oxtail! It was, in my mind, easily the best part of the experience here. We followed it up with the Crack & Cheese, fried potato gnocchi in a cheese bechemel sauce with bacon. This customized version of the mac and cheese was good, but not overwhelmingly great. It was heavy, but the gnocchi was extremely smooth. The cheese sauce was pleasant and it was a nice change from the comfort food we all know and love, but I felt that topping it off with bacon unnecessary. The bacon didn't add anything and I found myself picking around it.

By the time we finished the Crack & Cheese, we were starting to feel the food catching up with us. But it was already too late. There was still a final round. The Prince Edward Island Mussels had arrived. They were mediocre. Served in a Thai oyster sauce with dashi and Chinese sausage, they, while not bad, are no competition to the more traditional kind you might find at a Belgian restaurant made with white wine, cream and shallots. The sauce didn't have very much bite and, as with the bacon in the Crack & Cheese, the sausage was completely unnecessary and left almost completely uneaten.Last but not least arrived the Short Rib Buns, rib meat in an Asian bun taco with pickled cuke and apricot mustard. Pike and I both wished we ordered these earlier. They were good, but we were too full to enjoy them. By the time we each ate one, all we wanted to do was take a nap under the table.

Actually, all we wanted to do was wash everything down with a coffee, but the waitress told us "sorry, we don't serve any hot beverages." I've never heard of a restaurant with a policy of not having coffee or tea since it's pretty much the same thing as minting money. No matter how full you are, if you like coffee, you'll order a coffee and be more than happy to pay two bucks for thirty cents worth of food. Pike predicts that this policy will change soon once the owners do the financial math. In any event, I overall had a great time here and highly recommend the restaurant. It's nice to see Queens getting the kind of place that, typically, would be reserved for Brooklyn.

Eight small plates, plus tax and tip and two sodas came to just a hair under $100.

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