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Undersalted restaurant food

Afar Dec 20, 2008 10:29 AM

The Chowhound Team split this thread from its original location on the L.A. board. If you'd like to discuss your opinion of the food served at the Curious Palate, please respond on this thread:

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The wonderful thing about under-salted food is each dinner can use a table saltshaker to get their perfect taste. Please don't salt the food.

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  1. westsidegal RE: Afar Dec 20, 2008 12:49 PM

    i completely concur with you Afar.

    2 Replies
    1. re: westsidegal
      bulavinaka RE: westsidegal Dec 20, 2008 01:10 PM

      And I with the two of you. We went for the first time yesterday and found the food to be quite good. Yes, undersalted compared to what we're used to when we eat out elsewhere, but I think this begs the question, is our food at many of the eateries a tad oversalted? Are our tastebuds too accustomed to depending on salt flavoring up our food?

      I think if one gives the flavors of the food at this place a chance, they do impart a lot of care and consideration. Beluga lentils start to taste like lentils, carefully cured pickles taste of herbs and spices, short ribs sing of beef that has been delicately braised in a red wine sauce, and even the mac & cheese imparts great levels of flavors - you can actually taste the various cheeses as well as the pasta.

      Between their heavily locavore-driven menu and the focus on using good products in their food and drinks (e.g., Intelligencia coffee and tea, artisan breads, etc.), I'm pretty impressed with Curious Palate's efforts in bringing good food across their counter.

      I forgot to ask them if patrons are allowed to bring alcohol - does anyone know? Thanks

      1. re: bulavinaka
        Ben7643 RE: bulavinaka Feb 20, 2009 07:20 PM

        Agreed undersalted is always better, I happened upon the curious palate today. The gourmet selection is pretty nice. I picked up a few things and a home made brownie i'll be going back to try some of their food soon can't wait. I would have never known this place was right around the corner from me if it wasn't for all the reviews. The owner seemed really nice and seemed to truly care about the quality of the food he serves.

    2. a
      Adsvino RE: Afar Dec 20, 2008 03:22 PM

      Hows about PROPER salting so that is not necessary?

      9 Replies
      1. re: Adsvino
        Servorg RE: Adsvino Dec 20, 2008 03:44 PM

        Which coordinated universal individual salt taste standard would you suggest the chef use? (g)

        1. re: Servorg
          Adsvino RE: Servorg Dec 21, 2008 07:13 AM

          The one they teach in culinary school?

          1. re: Adsvino
            Servorg RE: Adsvino Dec 21, 2008 07:17 AM

            Which school? Anyone or is there one that trumps all the others? All kidding aside. Salt is one of those tastes that is so variable no one standard could or would work. But, since you can't take it out it just makes sense to under salt and let the individual diner add more to taste. The lucky thing is that adding salt after the fact works just dandy.

            1. re: Servorg
              Adsvino RE: Servorg Dec 21, 2008 07:40 AM

              Well, a chef might tell you some dishes can ONLY be salted in advance, as they fail to season right after the cooking process has concluded.

              At this place, I'm sure you will be fine :)

              1. re: Adsvino
                Servorg RE: Adsvino Dec 21, 2008 07:48 AM

                Some chef's have spent WAY too much time breathing in smoke and gas fumes.

        2. re: Adsvino
          bulavinaka RE: Adsvino Dec 20, 2008 07:50 PM

          Gotta agree with Servorg - is there such a thing? I personally feel the approach by the folks at the Curious Palate to be good for me - I ended up enjoying the food as is...

          1. re: Adsvino
            westsidegal RE: Adsvino Dec 21, 2008 07:58 AM

            d'ya mean the amount of salt that many places use to cover up their flavorless, cheap, basic ingredients?
            i believe that if your basic ingredients are of very good or supurb quality, less salt is better.

            1. re: westsidegal
              Afar RE: westsidegal Dec 21, 2008 08:34 AM

              Salt can be a bit like what goes in your coffee: light cream, soy milk, whole milk, half & half or nothing? You get the coffee black and make your own decision as to what to add. Years ago light cream was dispensed and that was that. Times have changed food service for the better. In culinary school, I have been told by one student, chefs are taught to add a pinch of salt only. Today's discerning customer will depart a restaurant after handing food back and not paying or leaving never to return if the food is too salty. If the chef leaves it to the customer to request salt or use table salt everyone leaves happy, at least as far as salt is concerned. bulavinaka did an excellent bit or writing in the first comment posted about salt. The ongoing consensus to limit the use of salt validated bulavinaka thinking. As for Jase's long comment/review it is informative and very good but shake your own salt.

              1. re: Afar
                Jase RE: Afar Jan 22, 2010 11:20 AM

                This thread popped back up again and I hadn't realized there was additional comments. As the original poster on this, I'd like to point out that my wife is very sensitive to oversalting things. I too prefer things to be err on the side of less salt.

                That's why I mentioned the lack of salt to our palates. It was unusual enough for me to comment on it. Also in my original post I pointed out that it was only in some of the dishes. Other dishes were fine. So to me it was an inconsistency. There's a big difference in my mind between something just tasting flat and subtle flavors. I liked their food overall.

                But what I found most interesting was when I first posted my review, I got several people jumping in without ever actually having tasted the food. At least taste the dang food before criticizing my post.

                I'm fine with erring on the side of less salt, but cooking completely without salt and expecting the diner to add their own salt at the end is not something I agree with.

          2. a
            Afar RE: Afar Mar 1, 2009 11:32 AM

            Came across this "salt" post from another food site, NOT in California: I had the opportunity to visit this restaurant and the presentation was excellent.The waitress was good.The food looked great and I was about to enjoy a well presented plate of fresh vegetable and fish.One bite and it was salt city.While I love my pepper I hate salt.To me that should be left to the customer to choose; but, no the chef decided to salt before serving. At first the chef denied it but then admitted to it. I hadn't time to stay for yet another meal preparation so they gave me no choice..sorry goodbye. Now I don't care to return. --- A recent discussion about salt I had with the house chef suggested that, in any given meal, plenty of salt is consumed in the breads, sauces, drinks and sides. If you are running a restaurant one had best do whatever gets the most favorable response from the dinners so they will return.

            1. k
              KTinNYC RE: Afar Mar 1, 2009 11:59 AM

              Are you suggesting chefs not salt food at all? If that is your contention then I completely disagree. Food needs to salted as it's cooking to bring out the level of flavors. If you don't believe me take something as simple as mashed potatoes and try not salting until it gets to the table. It will never be as good as if you salt before hand.

              3 Replies
              1. re: KTinNYC
                Delucacheesemonger RE: KTinNYC Mar 1, 2009 12:11 PM

                True, certain things need to be salted while cooking, potatoes, pasta, blanching vegetable liquids, but a minimum is needed. l am so tired of reductions that may have been salted properly in the beginning but on further reductions become so salty as to be inedible for me. Charlie Trotter's was guilty of this as well as many haute cuisine places around the country. Live in France part of the year and have rarely found this to be the case in Europe. l do not like salted food. Sure, give me a dish of Fleur de Sel and sweet butter and great bread and off l go, but to have fresh wonderful stuff masked by heavy salt is not for me. Been doing this for meat for years when l cook it. No salt at all when cooked and put a great finishing salt on the table for everyone to do what they want when eaten. No one has ever complained not salty enough, and l make a point of asking whenever l cook. l collect table salts from all over the world, have around 80 and use them as flavorings not preservatives.

                1. re: Delucacheesemonger
                  alwayscooking RE: Delucacheesemonger Mar 1, 2009 12:15 PM

                  And so many places use iodized salt and that I'll always taste that - yuck. Give me just enough salt as needed during preparation and let me taste the flavors of the ingredients themselves.

                  1. re: alwayscooking
                    Delucacheesemonger RE: alwayscooking Mar 1, 2009 12:28 PM

                    Rule as l was taught, was if you live within 60 miles of an ocean or eat shrimp three times a year, your body will get enough iodine without needing it from outside sources.

              2. Halie RE: Afar Mar 1, 2009 02:16 PM


                If you undersalt food it will taste really, really bad, in general.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Halie
                  EWSflash RE: Halie Mar 1, 2009 03:22 PM

                  Yep, you're right.

                2. thew RE: Afar Mar 1, 2009 02:45 PM

                  i disagree. saltying after is not the same. salt causes a whole host of chemical reations, besides just adding saltiness. and even ignoring that, saltiness on the surface is not the same taste as salt inside.

                  and as a side note - one post in this thread has this comment: " l am so tired of reductions that may have been salted properly in the beginning but on further reductions become so salty as to be inedible for me."

                  this sort of argument makes me nutty. no one wants food oversalted to the point of inedibility, but there are certainly more choices than undersalt and inedibly salty, aren't there?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: thew
                    Delucacheesemonger RE: thew Mar 1, 2009 02:51 PM

                    Of course, and usually no problem, but when oversalted, the dish is ruined without hope of redemption. Some of us like their food less salted than others. l mentioned some things should of course be salted in preparation, but many need less salt or no salt in preparation..
                    And again once salted to excess in some of our opinions, what then.

                  2. Sam Fujisaka RE: Afar Mar 1, 2009 02:59 PM

                    You would all love the "ABC Gourmet" show on the elgourmet channel in Latin America. Until a couple of years ago, the otherwise brilliant very technical instructional shows were made impossible to watch by the TONS of salt that they added to each dish. Things seem to be changing and almost all of the great chefs on the channel shows now use a lot less salt. The point may be that rough "average" national levels of salt intake and acceptance may have a lot to do with salting.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                      Delucacheesemonger RE: Sam Fujisaka Mar 1, 2009 03:06 PM

                      Ate some steaks on a trip across the northern tier of US, they literally dredged the meat in salt before throwing on grill. In Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana.

                      1. re: Delucacheesemonger
                        Afar RE: Delucacheesemonger Apr 23, 2009 01:25 PM

                        Everybody's taste preference for salt is personal. I agree that certain foods need to be cooked with a pinch of salt. Take the popular hamburger for example. I've never cooked it salted. When I was a lot younger I always added table salt. Now I use no salt. My taste for salt has changed. I am on the side of those pointing out that too much salt added when cooking can be destructive, as Del says "ruined without hope of redemption".

                        1. re: Afar
                          Afar RE: Afar Sep 25, 2009 11:37 AM


                          1. re: Afar
                            Afar RE: Afar Jan 15, 2010 10:30 AM

                            In NYC salt has become THE big issue. It's debated in the link provided.

                    2. Perilagu Khan RE: Afar Jan 15, 2010 11:12 AM

                      If everybody's salt tolerance is different then why not be more "inclusive" than thou and just not put any in?

                      I'm certain that would satisfy everybody and we would all live happily forever after.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Perilagu Khan
                        thew RE: Perilagu Khan Jan 22, 2010 04:58 AM

                        food salted after is not the same as food salted during. no amount of salt after will get in the pasta or in the potatoes. Also salt causes changes in the way things cook. the chemistry of salt after is completely different.

                        1. re: thew
                          Servorg RE: thew Jan 22, 2010 05:19 AM

                          It would be interesting to see that theory put to a test with double blind placebo controlled trials. I am betting that people could not tell the difference in taste between food salted before/during the cooking process or after.

                          1. re: Servorg
                            thew RE: Servorg Jan 22, 2010 05:21 AM

                            depends on the food, but i have definitely noticed when, say, pasta is not salted during cooking.

                            1. re: thew
                              Servorg RE: thew Jan 22, 2010 05:39 AM

                              Even with the sauce on the pasta? Or are you talking about tasting just the cooked pasta alone? I am still willing to bet that if you didn't know which batch had salt added to the water/cooking process, and which batch had salt added after it was cooked, you would not be able to discern a taste difference. It would be interesting to see this put to a true test.

                              1. re: Servorg
                                thew RE: Servorg Jan 22, 2010 06:10 AM

                                yes even with sauce. the pasta tastes flatter

                          2. re: thew
                            Perilagu Khan RE: thew Jan 22, 2010 06:07 AM

                            I actually agree with you completely and suspect you're right. Surface salt, unsurprisingly, is much more "up front" and I can even detect the grit. Salt during cooking, on the other hand, disolves into the food and disperses much more evenly. The saltiness is also smoother and less harsh when done this way.

                        2. m
                          miss stubby RE: Afar Jan 22, 2010 01:19 AM

                          I've not seen a comment on health issues. I'm hypertensive and very salt sensitive, so I must avoid too much salt or my bloodpressure goes through the roof. A reasonable amount of salt is OK and you can add more at the table, but the rest of us can't take it out. I have asked for unsalted fries and waited for a fresh batch to be cooked only to have them be scooped up with such a salty scoop that I couldn't eat them.

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