Friday, October 13, 2006

Baltimore's Restaurant Salt

Recently, I paid my second visit to the restaurant Salt on the northwest corner of East Pratt Street and South Collington Avenue in Baltimore's Butchers Hill neighborhood. As far as I'm concerned, you can't go wrong at Salt---just so long as you're able to get a table. On the Tuesday night we were there, by 8 pm, every table was filled, every bar stool was occupied, and a few people were waiting outside. Salt is primarily a neighborhood place not unlike what you might expect to find in Manhattan or San Francisco. As you enter through the Collington Avenue door, the dining room is to the left. To the right is the room that houses the bar which faces the interior wall beneath a row of attractive apple green hanging lights. The exterior walls are surrounded by more tables for dining. Drink specials were posted on a blackboard next to the bar. They included a pomegranate margarita for which I can vouch personally, a green tea cocktail, raspberry gimlet, and mango martini. A wine list that includes a substantial variety of well chosen mid-priced wines fills one side of Salt's written one page menu. The other side is all food and divided between small plates, referred to as starters, and entrees. In my typical fashion, I made dinner out of three starters, which essentially amounted to a meal of burger, fries, and salad of a genre quite unlike any other that I've encountered in Baltimore. For $15, the burger component was listed on the menu for $15 as a Foie Gras and Kobe Beef Slider with truffle aioli and red onion marmalade. In appearance much like a tiny but thick burger on a commensurately sized roll, my slider was delicious and exactly what the menu declared it to be. The fries, at $9.00 were cooked in duck fat and accompanied by three different aiolis for dipping. What most distinguished the $5.00 house salad was the presence of tomatoes that had been marinated, along with kalamata olives and shaved Parmesan Reggiano cheese, a combination which wonderfully enhanced it. From the main menu, I tasted Mrs. Yi's Braised Lamb Stroganoff (left) listed at $18.00 and was most impressed by how delicately and refreshingly light it was for a stroganoff type preparation. I also had the opportunity to taste our friend Dennis's $19.00 sugarcane skewered pork tenderloin (right) with sweet potato, andouille sausage, and an ancho bourbon glaze. It pleased my palate every bit as much as the description suggested it would. I'm certain that Salt's desserts were as satisfying as everything else that we enjoyed, but when the time came, we were all too full. I already liked Salt enough to be most comfortable including it among my ten favorite restaurants in Baltimore

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