As a francophile, I have traveled to France, and sampled, extensively, her varied and great regional cuisine. Recently, while in Clearwater with dear friends, we dined at Salt N Pepper, upon the recommendation of Trip Adviser. This is a real bistro in every sense; the menu is limited, and the food is fresh, and immediately prepared. The building itself is unassuming; its interior, however, is warm and charming.
We were greeted by Beth, whose comfortable personality made us feel as if we were dining in her home. Her husband, Jean-Claude is the chef. They are both from Antibes; its warmth accounts for the warmth of Salt N Pepper.
As an appetizer, I had escargots, delicately flavored with a basil sauce, served over home made puffed pastry. The escargots were succulent, and the pastry was feather-light. As a main, I had canard a l'orange. The duck, medium rare, was done to perfection. The sauce with this iconic dish can be ruined, too often, by a sauce which is treacly and too thick. However, Jean Claude produced a sauce which was light, delicate, with orange jest, finely julienned, and delicately sweetened. This was absolutely one of the finest examples of this dish I have had, in or out of France.
Everyone in our company reported that his or her meal was a chef-d'oeuvre. Masterpiece also describes the dessert which we all shared. We ordered a wonderful patisserie aux pommes, just one, to be shared between five of us. Well, we each,stoically, said, just one bite. This delicacy seduced us all. One bite led to another, and then another, and our diets were left in tatters.
Jean Claude came out to greet all diners that evening. He has a wonderful, embracing personality, We tried to convince him and Beth to close the Clearwater bistro, and reopen in our up state New York town of Ithaca. To the advantage of Clearwater, they declined.
If you are in Clearwater, run to Salt N Pepper. You will experience the finest French cuisine in or outside of France.
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