Salt and Salt Bar, NYC


Salt (closing soon…)

Chef: Melissa O’Donnell
Cuisine: American Nouveau, Eclectic/Global
Neighborhood: SoHo
Price: $25-40 per person
Address: 58 MacDougal St., NYC 10012
Phone: 212-674-4968
Hours: Mon-Fri, noon-4pm and 6pm-10pm; Sat, 11am-11:30pm; Sun, 11am-10pm

Salt Bar

Neighborhood: LES
Price: $20-35 per person
Address: 29A Clinton St., NYC 10002
Phone: 212-979-8471
Hours: Sun and Tue-Thu, 6pm-1am; Fri-Sat, 6pm-3am; Mon, closed

The original Salt restaurant opened in 2002 in SoHo by Melissa O’Donnell, the former executive chef at West Village’s Le Zoo (which is now home to another female-owned restaurant, April Bloomfield’s The Spotted Pig).  Salt was born from an earlier venture called Stella following the departure of two partners which left O’Donnell as the last owner standing.  O’Donnell designed Salt to be a simple and homey restaurant  with exposed brick, white-painted wooden tables, floral printed cushions, fresh cut flowers, and faded, rustic cabinets which serve as service stations.  I particularly loved the alabaster candles that emit a soft, comforting glow.  The restaurant is tiny but it manages to stay cozy without feeling too cramped.  There is a small bar counter which reveals an open kitchen probably no more than 70 sq ft, and out of this shoebox of a kitchen, the chefs serve up seasonal, contemporary American fare to the 50~ patrons that manage to fit inside this quaint restaurant.

Following the success of Salt, O’Donnell opened Salt Bar on the Lower East Side.  This offshoot is a bit more “playful” to cater to the LES youths with dark wood communal tables, a small corner for lounge seating, exposed beans, white brick walls, and a full bar (the original Salt only serves beer and wine).  Where Salt is a bit more quaint country home, Salt Bar is more like a rustic tavern.  The menu shares some favorites from  the Salt menu (Honey-Glazed Dates wrapped in Bacon), but also departs from the original with a nice selection of cheeses and charcuterie and other dishes with global inspiration.  I am particularly obsessed with the Mushroom Bread Pudding with Truffle, Parmesan and Thyme.

And now sadly, after 10 wonderful years, Salt is due to close soon as it has lost its lease.  I definitely recommend to everyone to make a visit to the original SoHo location before it closes for good!  But on the bright side, O’Donnell will be moving to Salt Bar this fall to cook some Salt favorites as well as a new dishes.  I am looking forward to it!

APPETIZERS

$1 Oysters with a housemade marinara sauce (Salt & Salt Bar)
Oysters are just $1 each Sunday — Thursday all night, and 6-8PM Friday and Saturday until they run out!

Honey-glazed dates wrapped in bacon (Salt & Salt Bar)
This is a crowd pleaser at both locations Sala 19 also does this tapas dish very well.

Goat cheese brulé, cantaloupe, leeks, radish sprouts, raspberry vinagrette (Salt)
Really refreshing and fantastic!  The cantaloupe add a lovely sweet sand summery touch.

Mushroom bread pudding, Parmesan, truffle, thyme (Salt Bar)
My favorite appetizer here… I couldn’t believe it was bread pudding.  I am used to sweet bread pudding for desserts but this savory version was absolutely incredible.

FLATBREADS

Flatbread with tomatoes, pesto and ricotta (Salt Bar)
Thin, crispy flatbread with simple toppings.   I could have used a lot more ricotta on this though.

ENTREES

Fish Tacos (Salt Bar)
A lot of reviews have raved about these fish tacos, but I personally thought they were just okay.  Maybe need to give it another go but so far, my favorite fish tacos in the world are Coconuts (too bad it’s in Maui).  So far, my favorite in NYC remains Barmarché’s Crispy Bass Taquitos with Apple Cider Slaw.


Poached flounder, carrots, spinach, coconut curry (Salt Bar)
Very light and healthy tasting with a subtle curry flavor.

Filet of Beef Wellington, mushroom, sour cream, balsamic sauce (Salt Bar)
Hearty tavern food at its finest!

SIDES

Braised mustard greens with pancetta (Salt)
I’m pretty sure that was what this dish was… loved the slightly bitter greens that was tempered with garlic and fried bacon bits.

Yukon Gold potato puree (Salt)
We ordered two; this was so good.  I’ve made a Garlic Potato Pureé which is… well not good but I suppose good enough for home!

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