Baltimore, MD 21231
Since I've moved back down to the NoVA-DC-MD area, I've been reticent to try restaurants in the Baltimore area in the expectation that I'd be disappointed since I was spoiled thoroughly by New York City. So far, I've been to Woodberry Kitchen and most recently Salt Tavern and have been greatly surprised.
Salt Tavern is in the Butcher's Hill neighborhood of Baltimore close to Patterson Park and somewhat out of the way of the gentrification hitting the city. As you enter, the decor and atmosphere are absolutely spot on for a trendy, comforting, neighborhood restaurant that isn't pretentious and comfortable with its surroundings. We started off with sampling the Foie Gras & Waygu slider which was absolutely fantastic (albeit very rich). The Wagyu was a bit on the rare side (not uncommon) but the flavors paired with a generous heaping of foie gras were rich, earthy and very bold.
For entrees, we tried the duck fat french fries & grilled octopus salad (I know their listed as appetizers but we were adventurous), the seared day boat sea scallops and the citrus marinated mahi. the duck fat fries were expectantly rich and decadent but there simply was too much of them. They were served in a conical container and the further you got down the cone, the richer and more overpowering the duck fat became. They could easily trim the portions in half and have a more successful dish. The grilled octopus was cooked to perfection. The octopus didn't have a hint of toughness and paired nicely with the olives and the vinaigrette not to mention the caper berries (which I mistook for chick peas). The seared scallops were bold, rich and playful all at the same time. The scallops were cooked to perfection and the BBQ pork belly mixed with the lentils evoked memories of the best baked beans you've ever had. The Asian pear salsa that accompanied the dish tended to get overpowered by all the other flavors but I don't think anyone cared since everything else was so great. The citrus marinated Mahi with plaintains, poblano pepper and avocado was the right mix of a perfectly cooked fish and a rich layering of flavors The lightness of the citrus sauce balanced out the richness of the avocado & plantains perfectly.
For dessert, we tried the figgy pudding cake with meyer lemon ice cream and the goat cheese doughnuts with coffee ice cream. The doughnuts were a whimsical play on coffee and doughnuts and successfully pulled off a savory & sweet dessert concept. The lavender honey coating the doughnuts with a sprinkle of sea salt and the goat cheese was a good contrast and the coffee ice cream finished it off delightfully. I've never experience pudding cake before and I'm glad this particular one was my introduction. The tartness of the meyer lemon ice cream was a good entry into the sweetness of the moist & lush fig cake on the plate. This dessert aimed for your more traditional "sweet" spot and hit it right on.