Hot Eats: Salt

A new Central West End restaurant makes contemporary American cuisine simple and sublime

 

My instincts tell me that Salt Executive Chef and Owner Wes Johnson lives and cooks by one of my favorite mantras: “Keep it simple, stupid,” otherwise known as the K.I.S.S. method. Although I didn’t confirm this with him, it’s evident in every dish. The cuisine at Salt, like its moniker, is simple—contemporary American with subtle whimsical touches. I can’t help but instantly like a chef who shares such a straightforward way of thinking.

At the time of my first visit, there was no sign on the space, though one isn’t really needed; it’s hard to miss the pillared grand mansion along Lindell Boulevard. Fans of the shuttered Savor will undoubtedly know where to find it, and if you’re not familiar with it yet, you will be. The space perfectly complements the cuisine—clean, light and sophisticated, with creams and yellows dominating the interior, an old-world style bar and uniquely decorated second-floor bathrooms that are definitely not your run-of-the-mill restrooms.

A Chef Truly at Home
A veteran of the St. Louis dining scene, Chef Johnson has worked in numerous restaurants, most recently Eclipse in the Moonrise Hotel, The Shaved Duck and The Scottish Arms. His well-versed résumé has not only attracted a strong following of foodies, but it has also allowed him to explore a variety of cooking styles. I’d say he’s found his true home with Salt. To start, the menu is divided into five categories with a small plates menu that commands the attention in my book. Among the cheese and charcuterie, all of which are carefully selected, the standouts include humbolt fog with semi-soft goat cheese and the prairie breeze cheddar. The restaurant’s name is derived from the style of curing meats, and Chef Johnson cures some of the charcuterie in-house. I really enjoyed the pork and black garlic rillette; the creamy and consistent texture paired well with crispy flatbread strips.

Simple Small Plates

I recommend ordering several small plates and sharing, as I did one visit with two friends. There are too many wonderful options to miss—like the asparagus goat cheese gratin. A handful of gently seared stalks are baked with goat cheese and splashed with a light honey sherry vinaigrette; and while enjoyable, the goat cheese doesn’t mask the freshness of the asparagus. The salt salad was a hands-down favorite among my dining companions; we loved the light vinaigrette tossed with fresh greens, almonds, pickled green shallots and a thin slice of bleu cheese. I quite possibly had the best scallop experience of my life, thanks to the seared scallop dish, smoked with cedar in an air-tight mason jar and served (in the jar!) with a light cracked-mustard sauce and scallions. We also shared an order duck fat frites, skinny and crispy, dusted with sea salt and served with house-made ketchup. Simply. Fantastic.

Where to go:
Salt
4356 Lindell Blvd.
Central West End
314.932.5787
Small Plates: $4-$9
Hours: Wed.-Mon., 5pm-midnight.
Brunch Sat.-Sun., 10am-2pm.

 

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The new Central West End restaurant Salt features simple contemporary American cuisine.

The new Central West End restaurant Salt features simple contemporary American cuisine.

 

Photo credit: Photos by Jennifer Silverberg

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