After our recent visit to The Corner Store, we were reminded that it has been a very long time since we dined at the Salt House. It’s hard to really describe Salt House other than it provides upscale American and Tavern-based comfort food in a restored brick-laden 1930′s building that once served as a printing press warehouse. Owned by Doug Washington and Chefs Mitchell and Steven Rosenthal (Town Hall, Anchor and Hope), they “transferred” Executive Chef Vernon Morales from Town Hall to Salt House last year. Chef Morales has an extensive and impressive résumé having cooked under Daniel Bouloud and Ferran Adria (el Bulli) prior to opening the critically acclaimed Winterland which unfortunately closed in 2009.
We had reservations at the perennially packed restaurant, but spied 2 open seats at the bar and decided to take those instead. We started off with some excellent house cocktails: Divorce Italian Style (Bulleit “95″ Rye, CioCiaro Amaro, Dimmi, Orange Bitters) and a Waistcoat and Tar (Templeton Rye, Pimms #1, Syrah Grapes, Lemon, Peychaud Bitters):
From the snacks menu, we ordered the Pork Crackling. The crispy chicharrónes were served with a side of house pickled cabbage which usually helps cut down the fat; but in this case, the skin was so airy, we could almost pretend it wasn’t very fatty:
On the recommendation of Jake, the Dining Room Manager, who happened to be helping out at the bar while another bartender was on break, we ordered the Blistered Shishito Peppers. The menu noted that it came with with currant onion marmalade and buttermilk dressing, but we are guessing that the tasty peppers must have been marinated or dressed in those prior to grilling. It was not our lucky day since none of the pepper turned out to be hot:
We splurged a little and selected this bottle of French Burgundy which paired nicely with the rest of our meal:
We initially made reservations there because we had Poutine on the mind. Jake recommended a different appetizer which we did end up getting, but since he saw that we were so torn, he kindly sent out the cheese curd covered crispy fries that are smothered tableside with short rib gravy. We are so grateful that he did since this is one of the best versions in the City:
Jake totally did not steer us wrong in telling us to get the Poached Organic Egg served over pork hash, fingerling potatoes and finished with a jalapeño mornay sauce:
The egg yolk was perfectly runny, and when mixed in with the mornay sauce, it added another level of richness to this satisfying dish. There was actually pork served 2 ways in this dish: shredded and spicy sausage (the red round items):
Jake helpfully explained that the Dry Aged 38° North Duck is a rare item since the duck is hung to age in their refrigerator for 30 days. Partially crusted with poppy seeds for crunch, the delicious duck breast took on a very meaty steak quality. Served with quinoa, broccolini and sunchoke chips, the entire dish was finished with a hibiscus jus. The kitchen split the plate for us, so what is shown below is a half-portion:
The bar program is equally enticing with a lot of great cocktails, liquor choices and Amari. Our bartendress was well-versed in the digestive nature of Amari so offered to make us some Amaro with lemon. We told her that we prefer our Amaro with orange, so she shook up some Averna Amaro with a blood orange slice and ice (we are totally stealing this idea) and poured it into a couple of cordial glasses. This was the perfect way to end another excellent meal:
The house signature poutine remains at the Salt House, but Chef Morales has definitely reinvigorated the menu with his additions. This experience made us wonder why it took us so long to return – we won’t be making that mistake again. Which reminds us that we are also way overdue for a visit to Town Hall, it’s big sister restaurant that specializes in Southern food. Mardi Gras is coming up, we better make plans to head there now.