Pittsburgh Restaurant Scene
First, we have finally found our new “Restaurant Buddies”! You may remember Joe from the post about his restaurant The Wooden Nickel. Well, he and his lovely wife Natalie have joined us a few times for dinner, and it has been a blast. They enjoy the same style restaurants as we do and are great people to dine out with.
In the fall of 2010 Kevin Sousa opened his first restaurant, Salt of the Earth, and it became an instant hit. Located on Penn Ave in Garfield, right down from Verde, Voluto Coffee and the Pittsburgh Glass Center. This restaurant is great in the fact that some people love it while others don’t, and I have been involved in “debates” with people (both in the culinary world and not) and they have gotten almost heated. One thing is clear, Kevin is going to make the food he enjoys and you can either enjoy it with him and not, it’s your choice. D and I love everything about this place. The outside of the restaurant is nothing crazy, just a simple stone building with a wall of windows along the front of it. Now, the inside is a different story, you walk into to the hostess stand and right over their shoulder is the open kitchen. The main dining room is open with 3 large communal tables, a giant chalkboard menu, a bar with seating and a long counter that lines the kitchen with seating to watch the magic happen. They also have an open upstairs dining area with tables that are able to be reserved, D and I have never ventured upstairs. The menu here is extremely seasonal, they have around 7 apps, 7 entrees, 3 desserts, and a specialty drink list, all of which change rather often. A lot of the produce used comes right from the Garfield Community Farm, that’s about as local as it gets.
We were lucky enough to dine at the kitchen counter, and made a special request to be served a Chef’s Tasting Menu (9 courses) for the 4 of us. This was Joe and Nat’s first time here, but after seeing how much they enjoyed dining at Cure with us, we knew they were gonna love Salt. The meal started off with white asparagus braised in bacon fat served with sauce Gribiche (look it up) and crispy bacon with fresh herbs. Everyone loved the 1st course and were extremely excited for the rest of the meal.
The 2nd course was Elysian Fields Lamb Tartare served with dried apricots, toasted nuts, ramp jus and mint. Another great dish, and the wine we were drinking was delicious as well (Thanks Joe and Nat).
Next up, 3rd course, this was a Morel Risotto with artichoke salad, celery leaves, and ricotta insalata. Each course seemed to get better than the last, could the kitchen keep it up?
4th course was whole roasted Prawns (head on- which means we got to suck out the brains and juice!) with mussels served with fresh peas and pea puree. It was simple, but so perfect together.
The duck was the 5th course, wrapped in ramp leaves and cooked sous vide, served with roasted mushrooms and cauliflower over top cauliflower puree. The duck was cooked perfectly pink and it picked up great flavor from the ramps. Also, you can never go wrong with roasted mushrooms or cauliflower.
For the 6th course they served us a lovely med-rare Hangar Steak (love Hangar, a little chewy with awesome flavor) with mind-blowingly good collard greens and a warm potato salad dressed in a Dijon sauce, all placed on top of a sweet onion sauce. If I were forced to choose, this would probably be my favorite dish of the meal.
7th course was the Cheese Course, a sheep’s milk cheese called Ewe’s Dream was shaved with apples and garnished with orange marmalade and candied pine nuts. The cheese was pungent and fabulous, the orange marmalade was great and the pine nuts added good crunch to the dish.
The 8th course was a white chocolate pudding wrapped in a rhubarb gelee with toasted oats, then a scoop of violet ice cream and mint sorbet. The pudding and gelee were great but the mint sorbet was out of this world!
Our final course was a vanilla bean ice cream with yuzu meringue with fresh flowers and herbs. It tasted the same way summer gardens smell. This whole meal from start to finish was excellent; there was not a single weak course! Joe and Nat loved it as well.
We wouldn’t recommend Salt to every one, especially picky eaters. They are vegetarian and vegan friendly though. If you are open to trying new things and aren’t scared off by food combinations that you wouldn’t normally think of then this is a great place to try. The servers here are friendly and know the menu well so don’t be shy if you have a question. This restaurant was a great addition to the Pittsburgh food scene and hopefully it will be around for a long time.
Salt of the Earth
also on Facebook
5523 Penn Ave
Pgh, PA 15206
Open: Monday-Saturday 5pm-12am