Although Portland is certainly not shy on good food, I am almost beside myself to welcome the Salt Exchange on Commercial St. This new restaurant adds a fresh new palette to the existing restaurants in town.
My guy and I stopped in Thursday, which I think was only the fourth night of service. The space was very clean and modern, but with comforting continental touches. The green ceiling was a particularly nice detail. The staff was extremely friendly and everything was timed and prepared exceptionally well, amazing for a first week!
The menu consists mostly of small plates. We decided to order a bunch and split everything. Highlights included the lobster with basil and orange sabayon, a particularly rockin' Caesar salad, sheep's milk ricotta, a lamb entree served with sweetbreads and an amazing bean side. The desserts were also great. The financier came with a truffled honeycomb, which made my date moan embarrassingly loud. Whoever heard of truffling honeycombs? I am an instant addict, for sure. The portions were just the right size to let you sample a lot of different tastes. Even with a $45 bottle of wine, the bill came in at under $120 for 5 dishes, two desserts, and two coffees (not including tip).
The flavors and presentation had a contemporary flair that I haven't seen much in Portland, where I think most restaurants tend towards big rustic flavors (555, fore St..) but also not veering too far into gimicky feats of micro gastronomy, just beautifully, layered, fresh, innovative, and delicious. If this is the quality of week one, I can't wait to see what happens at Salt Exchange in the coming months.