The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


Foodie on the Half Shell: Go easy on the Salt

Photo Credit: Olivia Beals

I don’t usually head over to the Garfield area in Pittsburgh unless I’m going to visit friends. It has all the potential in the world to be “with it,” with Spak Brothers and Verde as its food destinations that offer interesting foods with vegan options. Let’s get real though…most of the buildings are boarded up as if the big freeze is coming, and even Bottom Dollar is closing over there. Oh no! What will we do without a Bottom Dollar? No, seriously though…what will we do?

Well, instead of spending $50 dollars on food that will last you a week at Bottom Dollar, try going down the street a bit and spend $50 on a meal that will last you one night at Salt of the Earth. Well, that doesn’t sound exactly economical, but it’s fun!

Step into an open floor plan with long communal tables, where you can see your food being cooked up against one wall and your drinks being made up against the other. The building is small, but the design opens up the restaurant to feel larger.

I personally hate communal sitting. I know it’s the new thing, but I enjoy a sense of privacy, and I think it’s just an excuse for the wait staff to be lazy. I got lucky, and I came with a large party of ten and we took up an entire table. I was comfortable sitting with my family and friends, and I didn’t have to worry about awkward elbow- room or someone asking me to pass the salt. Like no, I will not pass you anything—I’d actually prefer pretending you are not sitting right next to me.

Aside from the seating design, Salt has a lot going for them, but a few things holding them back.

Their menu is impressive looking and everything sounds trendy and delicious, like fish with grapes and foie gras. After reading that most of the chefs that I respect around Pittsburgh enjoy Salt, I was prepared for a “wow” reaction. The fireworks did go off for the sashimi starter that was made of unidentified fish. It was small—made for just one person, but the flavor was impressively large. With curried florets of al dente cauliflower and tart grapes, a lullaby of soft and crunchy and sweet and spicy all came together nicely.

Skip the romaine starter–it is just a boring Caesar salad.  Instead, try the fried Brussels sprouts if you are in the mood. They are nothing fancy, just delicious and greasy.

As for the “mids,” I was not impressed. I could have been trying the wrong dishes, though. I had the risotto as my entrée, which sounded promising. I imagined layers of flavors with the sweet potatoes, the lemon, and the roasted garlic. Unfortunately, it was a one-ton bowl of mush.

Don’t even bother with the mussels—you can make them better at home. When it comes to their entrees, stay safe and try their cheeseburger. It is simple yet divine, with handmade American cheese and tons of pickles all on a brioche bun. Simple is best.

What are really important, though, are their desserts. Salt redeems themselves with their sweets. They worked with different layers of flavors and textures. I had their brownie dessert, which came with ice cream that tasted like you picked a banana off of the tree itself, and peanut brittle. The concoction worked and I am happy I had it…although I am nervous that the dessert tasted amazing just because I was so bummed out by the other courses.

I think the take home about Salt is that they are truly a comfort food restaurant trying to be a contemporary American restaurant. Their hamburgers and fried Brussels sprouts are fantastic. What they should also be serving is rustic mac and cheese and modern meatloaf. I bet they would knock that stuff out of the park. Even though I feel strongly, my family would disagree…mainly because they all ordered the burger, I think.

A perfect dinner there would be a medium rare cheeseburger with a side of fried Brussels sprouts, ended with a brownie dessert. Stick to the simple stuff at Salt. They are still figuring it out.

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