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New tasting room/menu at Black Salt-review


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New tasting room/menu at Black Salt-review

shellymck | Oct 24, 2007 10:29 AM

Last night the mckhusband and I went to Black Salt to celebrate our anniversary. We’ve been there several times before and intended to order one of the tasting menus. After being seated and chatting with the maitre d’ he informed us that they had just opened, a week prior, a new tasting room with a new menu and that they had discontinued the 5-7-9 course chef’s choice tasting menus in the dining room.

We were quickly whisked back to the new area, carved out from space in the back of the restaurant, sort of by the bathrooms. The triangular room is done in non-descript modern, like the rest of the restaurant, but with softer surfaces, including tablecloths and a fire in a rectangle nook. The room can probably seat about 40. When we left at the end of the evening we realized how quiet the tasting room was in comparison to the dining room.

The new menu is 5 courses for $75 plus wine flights for $35. The first two courses were fixed, the second three offered choices and that night there were three extra gift courses plus take-home goodies. For the tasting room there is also a special bread basket (cheese twists, mini Parker rolls and biscuits) served with anchovy butter. All I can say is Yum!

The amuse-bouche was an oyster on the half-shell with Banyuls mignonnette and chervil. First two courses were hamachi tuna with housemade kim chee and apples and day boat scallop with veal sweetbreads. These were all terrific and I am not a person who normally eats oysters or sweetbreads. The oyster in particular was a riot of flavors.

For the third course we had lobster agnolotti (husband) and prawns with blue crab (me). Of the two the lobster was better—actually the prawns were my least favorite dish of the night, not bad but not particularly exciting.

A complimentary serving of pumpkin soup with fig vinegar (vino cotto?) and pecans came out before the main entrée and it was really nice—probably the most interesting squash/pumpkin soup I’ve had, thanks to the vinegar.

The final savory course was a choice of big-eye tuna with split pea cassoulet, Mediterreanean bronzino, or braised short ribs. The tuna was tender and flavorful but the bronzino trumped it—the tomato sauce it came in was incredibly rich and intense.

Hot cider (so delicious) and a tiny Madeleine were the palate cleansers before dessert.

Dessert was from a choice of three: a cheese plate, a pumpkin torte with mascarpone ginger ice cream and a chocolate cherry something that I can’t remember.

Any cheese course we order has to pass two tests: it can’t come straight from the walk-in and it has to have a special bread basket. This is usually a good way to determine if there was thought in the cheese selection, that it’s not just a menu filler. This one did not disappoint—a triple cream from France, a Spanish semi-hard and a Vermont blue that really packed a punch, all served at the proper temperature. Each one had honey or a fruit spread and the bread that came with it was a luscious walnut raisin. We were both very happy. The portion was sufficient for two to taste.

My dessert was the torte. The ice cream really stood out, the torte was good but tasted mostly like a very good version of your grandmother’s pumpkin pie. We also each ordered the wines paired with dessert for the flight. A tawny port for the cheese and a Kanu Noble dessert wine from South Africa for the torte. Both were really excellent choices.

In lieu of petits fours we each received a nicely wrapped bag of chocolates molded in sea-themed shapes.

Overall this was a really great night. Service was excellent. For just being open a week the server was able to easily answer all of my questions about the food and the wine. Pacing was leisurely and portions were just right—we only started to feel full at the very end of the evening. Really, this is very well done. Go!

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