Okay, Ive now been to Sea Salt (on San Pablo in Berkeley) three times now. The first time we were there at 5:30 on a Monday night. We started out with a dozen oysters ($2 each) and both of us were enticed by the lobster torpedo rolls ($19, as I recall) and the lime presses. My husband loved the torpedo rolls, which are just chunks of lobster in butter, stuffed into a long bun. I found the roll just a little to bland for my tastesbland enough to distract from the lobster, if that makes any sense. I was tempted just to pick the meat out, but then I would have left hungry. Service was prompt and friendly.
The second time we had half a dozen oysters half a dozen clams (at $2, same price as the oysters). The shellfish were plump, fresh, and sitting in plenty of juices. Afterward we both ordered the oyster po boys ($12), which come on the same torpedo rolls as the lobster roll, but also contain coleslaw, pickles, and remoulade. I wondered how the combo of fried oysters, veggies, and remoulade would work but the flavors melded together perfectly making a slightly messy but satisfying sandwich. Service, since it was busy, was not as prompt, but it was still friendly.
The third time, more oysters and clams. My husband went for the po boy again but I wanted to try the bacon, lettuce and trout sandwich with oven-dried tomatoes and tartar sauce. As others have reported, it was really, really good. I must admire the way they layer flavors with these sandwiches; seemingly incompatible ingredients are combined into a balanced, and singular taste. Service this time was a bit awkward. Our waiter was friendly, but he seemed slightly spacey. No big deal; it was just not as smooth as the last two times.
Oh, and I must put in a plug for the homemade potato chips that accompany the sandwiches. I always substitute potato chips for fries at Café Rouge because their chips are so thick they turn out chewy. At Sea Salt, though, the chips are nicely crispy and flavorful.
Overall impressions: Sea Salt is a great addition to the East Bay food scene. Its really nice to have a place that serves upscale but homey seafood. Portions are not huge, but are just enough to fill up an average eater. Bigger eaters will definitely need appetizer and dessert. Also, the restaurant is open 11:30am to 10pm, 7 days a week--which means if you get a craving at 3 in the afternoon they will serve you.
Service is pleasant but not clockwork smooth yet. They also do that irritating thing all mid-low end restaurants do of taking away your plate even if your companion isnt done. Ive come to accept that as just the way most restaurants seem to operate though.
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