Croque mademoiselle with Gruyere, ham, and quail egg
Tapas get the French treatment at non-traditional neighborhood bistro Sel et Gras in the West Village. Its name literally translates into "salt and fat," and owner Vanessa Repice has created a sassy little hangout that doesn't take itself too seriously—panache and terrific food notwithstanding. Decor is appropriately fun, with bright Moroccan-style floor tiles and Napoleon-inspired graffiti adorning the walls and ceiling.
Open for dinner and weekend brunch, the menu features classic and contemporary French dishes, tapas, small plates, cheeses, and sweets. Small bites and appetizers include twists on popular French plates, like escargot bourguignon, homemade foie gras, duck rillette, and three kinds of croquettes (ham, salt cod, and smoked chicken). A variety of flatbreads include a vegetarian option made with wild mushrooms and sage. You can also get mains like steak frites au poivre, steak tartare, short rib French dip, and either croque monsieur or mademoiselle, the latter of which is topped with a quail egg. Cheese and charcuterie selections are aplenty, and there's a daily happy hour at 5 p.m.
As for brunch, a $25 prix fixe gets you unlimited mimosa or kir royale. Mains include French toast, a bevy of eggs and omelettes, steak and eggs, and the aptly-named French Breakfast: two eggs any style, bacon, Merguez sausage, potato Lyonnaise, tartine, French pastry, Vermont butter, and jam. Try the eggs-cargot bourguignon, made with snails broiled in garlic-herb butter, baked egg, and baguette. Wash it down with a double espresso and you're ready to take on the weekend. 131 Seventh Ave., 646-558-5468