I had wanted to check out Salt of the Earth for months and months before I finally got there a few weeks ago. In Pittsburgh, Salt is the place for people who love not only food, but also the experience of dining. It’s the place Food & Wine raves about, the place the press raves about, and the place all of my food blogger friends rave about—so eventually enough was enough and I decided I had to make it to Salt before the end of 2011.
I finally got the chance to go a few days before Christmas to celebrate the end of the year with my friend I heart PGH. The dinner was little treat to us for finishing up the year on a strong note and toasting to a great 2012. When we arrived at Salt, I knew I wanted to sit at the kitchen counter. When you sit at the counter, you get to be apart of the kitchen action, all while comfortably enjoying your cocktail. It was intriguing to watch the chefs prepare and plate each dish with such precision and ease.
We both started off with cocktails, I had the bourbon, which was smooth and strong and soothing. It’s something I would call a grown up cure for a sore throat. And in my case, it was exactly what the doctor ordered before the weekend of Christmas craziness began.
Salt doesn’t have traditional menus, but instead has a chalkboard wall filled with what the chefs are cooking up this week. There’s plenty to choose from whether you’re a meat guy, or a vegetarian–Salt will have something to please your palate.
We decided to start with the beet salad and the sweet potato gnocchi. I was a bit hesitant about the frisee in the salad because it’s not my favorite, but it added the perfect amount of bite and texture to the salad with the soft, runny egg and the sweet beets. I totally loved this beet salad, and from now on I think all my salads should be topped with a dippy egg.
Next up was the sweet potato gnocchi with beef cheek and tongue. Before Salt I never had beef cheek or tongue and the way I could describe the cheek would be a really tender, delicious little nugget of beef. The tongue was laid flat on the plate with the rest of the appetizer on top of it, and it is was a bit chewy but easy to eat because it was sliced so thin. The gnocchi was perfectly soft and melted in my mouth with a great sweet potato taste. I always forget how much I love sweet potatoes.
While we ate our appetizers I had the opportunity to see all the different dishes the chefs were preparing, so I had a leg up on all the other diners who didn’t know what to order. I saw the duck being prepared over and over, so I knew that would be a good choice. Plus, it was paired with haluski! Haluski immediately brings me back to grade school basketball tournaments and eating homemade haluski in the church basements after games. My food memory of haluski is a comforting one, so I decided to order it as my entree.
The duck was cooked perfectly paired with brussel sprouts and sitting atop a creamy and delicious parsnip puree. Accompanying the duck was the haluski topped with pomegranate seeds and a hint of apple butter on the plate. That’s what Salt does so good—they put together mouthwatering flavor combinations that don’t seem to make sense and make them work beautifully. Like with the frisee in the salad, and in the duck entree when I’d take a bite of the buttery haluski and get the pop of a pom seed in my mouth. Unexpected for sure, but so good at the same time. Going out to eat is way more fun when you’re not only enjoying great company, but great food and dishes you’ve never had before.
For dessert, we shared the s’more and it wasn’t your average s’more with some chocolate and marshmallows sandwiched between graham crackers. This deconstructed s’more had crushed golden grahams with gooey, charred marshmallows and little chocolate bricks that tasted more like a stiff chocolate mouse than a chocolate bar. My only critique is If I was the Salt chef I would probably make my own golden grahams. Homemade golden grahams would definitely taste better than the boxed, in my humble opinion.
Well, if you couldn’t tell by my rave review, I loved Salt of the Earth. As a person who enjoys dining out, new food experiences, and a great restaurant atmosphere, Salt exceeded my expectations. I’ll definitely be back as soon as possible to order something new on the menu and to sit at the communal tables.
To read about Salt’s chef Kevin Sousa’s next restaurant venture, check out my post here.