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Dec 20, 2008 10:29 AM

Undersalted restaurant food

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. i completely concur with you Afar.

    2 Replies
    1. re: westsidegal

      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

        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. Hows about PROPER salting so that is not necessary?

      9 Replies
      1. re: Adsvino

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

        1. re: Servorg

          The one they teach in culinary school?

          1. re: Adsvino

            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

              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

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

        2. re: Adsvino

          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

            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

              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

                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. The original comment has been removed
            1. 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. 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

                  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

                    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

                      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.