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Apr 24, 2009 08:14 AM

Salts Recommendations

Hey everyone-- I just made a reservation for my first trip to Salts, and am looking to you all for a little advice. It's a quasi-celebration dinner (my bday, my parents first trip up here in a long time, first real dinner in 2 yrs with the boyfriend and parents...), and have been dying to try this place. I've been reading some good things about their tasting menu, but am wondering if this is definitely the way to go, or if more people would recommend going a la carte? Just how pricey is the tasting menu (I picked the place, but am sure my father is going to demand taking the bill, and I'm trying not to kill him too too much here...), does it include wine pairings, and is this duck really all it's cracked up to be? Within the group, we'll have both a chef and a gastronomy student, as well as a semi-picky eater, so I'm really looking for something that will be special for us who are food-centric (yeah, it's a stretch, but am really trying to not use the word foodie here...) but will also cater to a dislike or two with the picky eater. Any advice/recommendations? TIA!

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  1. I've done both the tasting ($75 pp) and a la carte. You can also do a wine pairing with the tasting for an additional $30 or $35 pp. I enjoyed both experiences. If you have any strong dislikes or allergies they are open to accomodating you but the whole table has to do the tasting (just two out of four of you can't do it alone). But there is nothing wrong with ala carte. The service will be excellent either way. Also you don't get anything off menu with the tasting. I liked it because I had some things that maybe I wouldn't have ordered on my own.

    The duck: my brother and sister in law got this and presentation-wise its special and memorable. Its delicious but if your not in the mood for a roast than I would go in a different direction. If you have big appetites the duck is a good too. There was plenty for the rest of us at the table to take a nibble.

    Your going to have a great time no matter what you choose. Also even if your stuffed try to get dessert. I think they are excellent there.

    1. The duck is delicious, but at this point, it has essentially absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the menu. Over the past few years, the other dishes here have become more and more refined and subtle, while the duck has remained a big, hulking plate of [outstanding] meat. I find it ironic that the duck is their "signature" item, as it's so jarringly different from anything else on the menu. Personally, I say steer clear, and maybe check it out on some awful winter night.

      If your paternal unit can stand the cost, by all means get the tasting menu. I'd been kind of anti-tasting menu for the past few years, but a recent visit to Salts pretty much single-handedly restored my faith in the genre. As an aspiring insufferable wine snob, I don't care much for by-the-glass wine pairings; you'll get better quality and QPR if you order a couple of bottles instead. Salts has a fairly small, but really lovely selection of wines, including a number of half bottles; if it were me, I'd probably start with a half bottle of white, then graduate to a full bottle of red. NB they're a little weird about when you can and can't do a tasting menu, so if you plan on going this route, I'd call in advance.

      As for a la carte, stuff I've had on their current menu that I can wax ecstatic about: Parsnip Soup, Earl Grey tea smoked Ocean Trout, Ballotine of free range Chicken (it's everything the duck is not), Lemon soufflé Tart.

      1 Reply
      1. re: finlero

        I think if your reservation is in the second seating (8 pm or later) then you can do the tasting but perhaps not earlier when they have to turn the table.

      2. Probably should have read through this post more thoroughly... went to Salts for dinner last Saturday. We all felt the food was good, but not necessarily great, and the service left something to be desired. The first service misstep was that our waiter came over and informed us that there are "lots of big words" on the menu so feel free to ask if we needed help. I found this both a little condescending and also a bit informal for a white tablecloth restaurant. Next, we asked the hostess for her thoughts on wine, specifically a bottle of tempranillo that we were considering. She highly recommended it, then the waiter came out with a different bottle and informed us they were out of it. The waiter did tell us specials, but did not mention any substitutions. My husband and I had pre-ordered the duck (might not have, had we read this post) and my father-in-law wanted the halibut. After taking the order, the waiter reveals that tonight's halibut will be ...ta da... sole. He assures my father-in-law that "it's almost the same." Not really. (He later served it "here's your halibut, sir" me: "didn't you say you were out of halibut?" waiter: "oh, yeah, it's sole".)

        An amuse of squash soup was delicious. Our apps arrived fairly promptly. My corn-mushroom-poached egg-chorizo was really rich and flavorful, and the highlight of the menu. My husband's tuna tartar was just okay.
        After apps were cleared, we waited 35 minutes for our entrees. Given that we sat at 6:20 and ordered promptly, I just don't understand the wait. The duck was beautifully presented, but I'd have to agree with all the comments here that while it was tasty, it was no more tasty than any home-cooked Thanksgiving dinner. The duck was well-done, bordering on dry, the stuffing was a white bread stuffing with butter and a hint of herbs but nothing special and the honey lavender glaze was not really discernible. It you are intent on ordering it, I would recommend splitting it 3 or even 4 ways- it's really too much food for 2 people. Also, after having the whole duck preparation I would say I'm much more partial to a medium rare breast and a confit or other method of dealing with dark meat. My father in law's sole came with some really good gnocchi, but even though he's from a land-locked state he was quite able to tell it was nothing like halibut.

        Desserts were good- a milk chocolate mousse and a pana cotta. By the time we were done, it was past 9 and we did not linger. I'm not sure how they expect to turn any tables at that rate.

        In summary, although we had an enjoyable evening and left full, I'd recommend crossing the street to Craigie next time.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Parsnipity

          Darn! I'm sorry to hear this report Parsnipity. I hope it was just an off night. Both times I went I had the same waiter and he really made the night. Your waiter sounds very off-putting.