Black Salt -- The Tasting Room
Black Salt’s tasting room opened two+ weeks ago with little fanfare. By increasing the seating of the restaurant almost 50% with no increase in kitchen size has been challenging so far, I am told. We tried it last night.
If you have been to Black Salt, you may recall a 6-8 person table in a semi-secluded area directly back from the hostess stand (across from the rest rooms). That area is now a to-be-filled wine storage area with the new tasting room opening behind it. The room is trapezoidal, seats about 25, and is nicely furnished with tables larger than the other part of restaurant. The tables all have linen tablecloths and fresh flowers (unlike the other part of the restaurant). There is a gas fireplace, carpeting on the floor and is a more elegant version of the rest of Black Salt.
We were the only occupants of the tasting room until nearly half-way through dinner when two other people joined us. It was like having a private room in one of my favorite restaurants.
The tasting room has a $75 prix fixe menu. Let me walk you through our meal. We began with an amuse bouche of a single kumamato oyster with caviar. The first course was hamachi sashimi with house-made kim chee. The play between the spicy kim chee and the sweet hamachi was very nice. Second course was a single seared scallop and sweetbread with a carmelized onion and sauce.
For the third course, we had a choice of three offerings. We chose the duo of foie gras [torchon and seared] and a lobster and beans dish. I preferred the former; my GF preferred the latter. After the third course we were offered an intermezzo of pumpkin veloute with spice pecans. It was very tasty. We again had a choice of three offerings for the fourth course. We had branzino served over a spicy tomato sauce with vegetables and tuna with barley and lobster mushrooms. Both were very good.
After the fourth course, we had a small scoop of apple sorbet was a palate cleanser. The sorbet was deeply flavored and very good. For dessert, we had a choice of two desserts and a cheese plate. We went for the desserts. I had a butterscotch crème brule with sauteed apples that was delicious. My GF had a chocolate cake (two small pieces) with raspberry sauce that she loved. As a parting gift, they offered each of us a small bag of house-made chocolate candy.
We enjoyed it very much and will return frequently, I am sure. However, the evening was not without a few small annoyances. The wait between courses was sometimes quite long, e.g., 30 minutes between the second and third course. No excuse as the restaurant wasn’t’ that busy. About 30 minutes before we left, the thermostat was reduced from “comfortable” to “meatlocker.” We shivered through dessert. When I ordered a bottle of wine, my first two choices were sold out. The wine list needs help, both in accurately reflecting what is available and some better choices, especially including more choices from France.
I understand that Black Salt will began advertising the tasting room in several weeks so it might be to your advantage to beat the crowds!
Thanks for the thorough review. It's good to make note of the food (obviously) but also the technicalities (waiting between courses, the temperature) like you did, so thanks for that! Do you know if they only do the tasting room at certain times during the dinner service, or is it all through their dinner service? I'm assuming there must be some cut off times or else they run the chance of people coming in late at night and staying 2 hours after closing...