Salt in Montpelier, VT
I had a chance to stop in at Salt in Montpelier yesterday afternoon while I was out doing errands between appointments. I didn't have enough money to buy anything other than their homemade s'more from their dessert menu, but I -loved- the s'more. Homemade graham cracker and marshmallow, and they made their ganache for the chocolate. It was just wonderful.
The menu looks fantastic, and Suzanne is working on a holiday menu with and English bent to it. I met both her and her husband, and they were delightful. I can't help but adore a chef who mutters to his salamander. :)
Please please give 'em a go. I can't afford to keep them open myself, and I'm being totally selfish. Entree prices ranged from $13 to $24 and the small plates (which all looked fabulous to me) were from, IIRC $7 to $10. They also offer a local cheese plate that looks wonderful.
It's a small, intimate space (the small number of seats is the primary reason for the 4 in ambiance), and a tiny bit difficult to find on Barre Street, in Montpelier, but I think it's probably going to be well worth hunting them down. :)
207 Barre St, Montpelier, VT 05602
I had a so-so experience there this week. Some things were very well made indeed, but had one BIG disappointment. I got a delicious amuse bouche--a perfectly made gougere/cheese puff. My starter was a mince pie with local beef. It was certainly good, but I don't think it was quite what the chef had in mind. The shredded beef was very tasty, the raisins were good, but the flavors didn't really meld.
For a main course I got braised lamb, yorkshire puddings, and braised cabbage. The cabbage was good, the yorkshire puddings were fine. The lamb was dry. REALLY dry. I was overly kind in telling the owners that it was "a little dry"--in retrospect that was a mistake. It was so dry I literally had trouble swallowing it. I'm guessing they either let the liquid reduce too much during cooking or started with a cut that was too lean to stand up to what they were trying.
Dessert was a significant improvement: a baked apple with an eggnog creme anglaise. Very wintry, not too heavy, and a thoughtful blending of flavors. The coffee was also very good; it was late, so I got a French press of decaf.
If they can work out the kinks in the menu and generate enough business for their small space, I think they've got a good future in the town, but the cooking at Salt isn't where it needs to be quiet yet.
I managed to get there for lunch on Dec. 31st, prior to going out for Trivia. I ordered the banger and mash and my husband had the shepherd's pie. The banger was made by a guy who works there and is opening up Vermont Salumi (doesn't have his retail license for cured meats yet, I think he said, but it's in process). The mash had been JUST finished in time for my lunch. So it was fresh and utterly delightful. The shepherd's pie was braised lamb, braised cabbage, diced carrots, and mashed potatoes. I tasted it and thought the combination was delightful (and not one I'd have come up with myself). My husband thought the carrots were a bit too crunchy (I like them that way and they gave a nice contrast to the rest of the dish, IMO), and he thought there were too many (he doesn't really like carrots very much). He liked the rest of it, though. Frankly, my husband isn't their audience, I am.
My lunch was one banger and a nice pile of mash. A bit pricey at $12.50 but -really good-. I sure couldn't make a banger that good myself. I liked it a lot. To be fair to the Brits, it wasn't a truly British banger. Not nearly fatty enough. ;D But it was damn tasty. Our lunches came with a nice salad of tossed greens with slivered almonds and dried fruit (I think cranberries) and a light cider vinaigrette that I thought was delightful, my husband would have preferred a bit more dressing on his salad.
On the table they served a small dish of smoked Maine Sea Salt, regular Maine Sea Salt, and pink Himalaya salt. I have the pink at home, so I didn't try it, but I sprinkled some of the smoked salt on my salad and it was FANTASTIC. :) I loved it. The only whinge I have is that the mashed potatoes were so perfectly salted that I couldn't add the smoked salt to them. :) It would have been too much salt.
We didn't have room for dessert, but I was very interested in the plum pudding with hard sauce.
I still highly recommend this place for a fine dining experience. :) The service was awesome and they're very nice. The venue is very intimate. Give it a go!
Yes. It's a little hard to find. There's a convenience store and a salon next to it. Salt is on the end of the building. You'll need to park in the street but that's not usually a problem. She does have a sign hanging on the porch/stoop railing. :) Be sure to come back and let us know what you think! :)
I used the word "delightful" too much. :)