There are a lot of reasons why I prefer not to go to “trendy” restaurants, but chief among my reasons is that I’m afraid they’re always overhyped. While that’s true sometimes, it’s certainly not the case all the time. Truth be told, lately we’ve found that more often than not, the hype is valid – we have some really great restaurants in Pittsburgh!
One of the most-hyped places I’ve shied away from for years is Salt of the Earth. Back when Kevin Sousa was at the helm, it seemed you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing about the place. But then he left, and with him, he took a lot of the buzz. In fact, with all the new openings around town, we haven’t heard anything about Salt for a really long time. It looked like it was finally time to test the waters.
We were able to walk right in on a Friday night, sans reservation, and were seated at one of the communal tables near the window. The communal seating wasn’t a problem because the place was far from packed – there were plenty of other diners, but spaced far apart.
We both ordered the bourbon cocktail (Elijah Craig 12 year, Chartreuse, and Hum – a hibiscus ginger liqueur) and the Korean Fried Chicken starter. Actually, we thought the starter would be enough for two people, but it was only one drumstick with gochujang slaw, so we each ended up getting one. For our meals, the BF chose the pork with soba noodles and tempura shrimp and I chose the salmon with ricotta dumplings and root vegetables.
We were both really impressed by the bourbon cocktail – it had just the right amount of sweetness and it was well-balanced (and strong).
The BF loved the Korean Fried Chicken (and got quite a chuckle when he heard the kitchen call out “Fire KFC!” as the orders of it were put in), but I thought it was just ok. Like my previous experience with KFC (at Federal Donuts in Philly), I just wasn’t hugely impressed. I’m starting to think the problem lies more with my food preferences and less with the food itself, because everyone else seems to love it. I did, however, LOVE the gochujang slaw underneath the chicken – it was great!
The BF seemed to like his entree, and I really liked mine. The salmon was cooked exactly the way I wanted it, and the root vegetables were wonderfully firm. The ricotta dumplings were a great vehicle for the lobster sauce, but I believe I found some mushrooms mixed in underneath all the good stuff. My hatred of mushrooms is well-documented, so let’s just say the discovery of them was a rude awakening. They were easy enough to pick out, though, so they didn’t actually ruin anything.
The BF enjoyed his meal enough to say that the hype surrounding Salt is warranted. I really liked my meal (and loved my cocktail), and I would be more than happy to go back, but nothing really stood out for me. Everything was solid, and I’d like to try some more menu items, but there are also a lot of other really great restaurants around town right now. So while I’d agree that the hype is valid and I’d enjoy returning, I don’t feel as though I need to return right away.
Unless it’s to get another one of those bourbon drinks. Then I’m game.