Lunch at Boston’s Sel de la Terre

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Sel de la Terre, Boston’s bastion of Provencal cuisine, is infamous for its rosemary pomme frites.

With good reason.

They’re cut thin as shoestrings, fried perfectly (crisp not greasy), and seasoned well with salt and rosemary. Believe me, my picture doesn’t do them justice.

I hit Sel de la Terre the other day for lunch with my friend Nicole. Hands down, it’s one of my favorite spots in Boston. Here’s a quick review of our meal.

I have a big post on tap about the etiquette of taking pictures in restaurants, so more on this topic soon.

For now, suffice it to say that the food at Sel de la Terre is so good, I couldn’t NOT take pictures. I snapped some quick shots with my phone before we dug in.

Sel de la Terre

So Sel de la Terre is located down on the wharf in Boston, by the New England Aquarium. It’s a few blocks from my office in the financial district, so it’s a really convenient place to grab a fabulous lunch.

The front window is lined with flour-dusted, crusty loaves of fresh bread. (Hungry yet?)

If you don’t feel like dining in, Sel de la Terre has a great little front take-out area. You can get soups, salads, sandwiches, and some of the best coffee downtown there.

I love the inside of the restaurant. It’s warm and inviting, with high ceilings and well spaced tables.

A note on the wine list

It’s huge. Seriously. We didn’t drink, but I couldn’t keep myself from peeking at their lengthy offering.

Nom, nom, nom

Warning: When you tuck into your table at Sel de la Terre, you’ll be presented with a basket of unbelievably chewy and crusty fresh bread. Don’t eat it all. You’ll be tempted. It’s that good. But you’ll be stuffed. Save some room. (I’ve been known to take bread home in a doggie bag that is most decidedly NOT for the dogs…)

My friend ordered a salad and the grilled steak frites with red wine-shallot reduction.

I ordered the three-course prix fixe lunch menu. For $24, it included a choice of starter (mixed green salad or potato leek soup), entree (crispy confit leg of duck or sauteed trout), and dessert (brown butter financier or honey-vanilla coeur a la creme).

Our salads were lightly dressed and really fresh. My salad had thin slivers of grilled onion and small bits of sun-dried tomato.

Nicole’s salad was dotted with toasted sunflower seeds and (ever so slightly under ripe) papaya.

Nicole’s steak was totally yummy. Perfectly cooked medium rare. Thinly sliced across the grain. Drizzled with red wine reduction. Crisp rosemary fries piled nearby.

My duck confit was meltingly tender. It arrived with topped with a couple of sweet potato chips (they were delicious…I wanted more). It was perched happily on a bed of earthy french lentils, carrots, and snappy haricot vert.

If you’ve never had confit, definitely seek it out. Basically, to confit a piece of meat means to slow cook it in its own fat. It’s an ancient method of preserving meats like duck and pork. (Which is great, but totally anecdotal in this case. I think my confit disappeared in all of 10 minutes.)

The skin was crisp and the meat was so tender you could basically pull it apart with a spoon.

I stopped just short of nibbling on the bones.

Dessert was delicious and impressive. It was a brown butter financier with blackberry ricotta and tarragon ice cream. I definitely want to figure out how to make these.

A financier is a little French cake made with beurre noisette (butter cooked until it’s nutty and brown), and crushed almonds. It’s kind of like a deliciously chewy shortbread.

It was topped with piped meringue that was browned on the top and soft and fluffy inside. It was sweet but not too sweet.

The blackberry ricotta had great fresh berry flavor. The tarragon ice cream was amazing. Another one on my list to experiment with in the kitchen. It was light, almost like gelato, and was faintly fragrant with licorice. Definitely more subtle than anise. It was just lovely.

Two thumbs up from The Mouse

Thanks a heap to the good folks at Sel de la Terre for a fabulous lunch. The service was attentive (not intrusive) and the food was great. I’ll definitely be heading back soon. If you’re in Boston, I definitely recommend stopping in for an hour or three.

Location & contact info

Sel de la Terre has a few different locations in Boston. Find them online at

255 State Street
Boston, MA 02109
tel. 617.720.1300

Back Bay
774 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02199
tel. 617.266.8800

1245 Worcester Street
Natick, MA 01760
tel. 508.650.1800

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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie works as an advertising copywriter in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.