They say not to judge a book by its cover, but I’m much more of the “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression” mentality. Newly-opened Saltyard passed the first impression test with flying colors. The restaurant opened several weeks ago right next to Watershed in Brookwood Hills (aka the no man’s land on Peachtree between Buckhead and Midtown).
Conceptually, the restaurant focused on small plates, with an assortment of Italian, Spanish, and Mediterranean influences. Saltyard’s atmosphere was casual, upbeat, and slightly edgy. The kitchen opened up right into the front of the restaurant, which resulted in being hit with a mouthwatering aroma upon entering the restaurant.
Even better, was the fact that we were seated at the chef’s table, which sits right at the entrance and looks directly into the kitchen. I actually loved the fact that the table was somewhat isolated from the rest of the restaurant, because it can get pretty loud in there on a Friday or Saturday evening. It was certainly more conducive to carrying on a conversation in a large group.
When you’re dining at a small plates-style restaurant, the best only way to tackle the menu is to order as much as possible. My favorite thing about dining with a large group is the opportunity to taste lots of dishes. I guess the company would be a close second…
Saltyard’s menu was strategically broken down into a handful of sub-sections:
The “cheddar bay” biscuits with garlic and parsley were far superior to your average bread basket. They were served hot out of the skillet, and nicely browned on top. Inside, they were the perfect combination of flaky and cheesy.
Deviled eggs are one of those dishes that I’m just never going to love, so I didn’t bother to try a bite of these. I thought I’d include the photo in case there are any deviled-egg lovers out there…
The house-cured salmon chips were probably my second favorite plate of the night. This dish was a sophisticated twist on a bagel with lox. The thinly sliced potato crisps were smeared with lemon-dill marscapone and topped with layers of smoked salmon. The salmon was dusted with a sprinkle of roe, fried capers, and a sprig of fresh dill. The salty salmon and capers were nicely balanced by the mild acidity and creamy texture of the lemon marscopone. No complaints about the size either; perfect for sharing.
The beef carpaccio, on the other hand, did not quite live up to my expectations, although I didn’t actually taste the dish…
I initially thought our server had brought us the incorrect dish, given that anything carpaccio is traditionally (or always as far as I’m concerned) served raw. After consulting with the kitchen, our server informed us that they actually serve their carpaccio medium-rare. Hmm, they should probably specify that on the menu…
Interestingly enough, they’ve now updated their menu to call this dish “seared rare beef.” I’m not sure I would classify the beef I received as rare, but at least it’s a more accurate description than carpaccio. I’m not big on sending dishes back, but this one went straight back to the kitchen.
I love a good cheese plate. This sampling did not disappoint. The Greendale Farm aged tomme (similar in texture and flavor to brie) was by far my favorite.
The “tuna tonatto” was absolutely the most delicious bruschetta I have ever tasted. The olive oil grilled baguette was topped with diced ahi tuna, chives, and a melt in your mouth truffle spread. There was so much tuna piled onto this dish that it was falling off left and right. No complaints from me about that. The flavor combination of the tuna and truffle spread was outstanding – you can’t really go wrong when combining two of my favorite ingredients. Favorite dish of the night, no question.
While grabbing a pre-dinner drink at the bar, I spotted a server walking by with a plate of brussels sprouts. I was sold right then and there. The sprouts were simply prepared – roasted with lemon and capers. Ironically, they were slightly under-seasoned in the salt department, but nothing that a sprinkle from the salt shaker couldn’t fix. Definitely a good addition if you’re looking to get some greens in.
Aside from the carpaccio incident, our entire experience at Saltyard was flawless. Our server was great, and I enjoyed every single dish I tasted. For the most part, the dishes were pretty traditional, with a few unique and interesting twists (can’t say I’ve ever had tuna bruschetta before this meal). I would return to Saltyard for the bruschetta alone, but would love to branch out and try the roasted mushrooms and pan-seared scallops, among others. I think it’s pretty safe to say that my first impression of Saltyard is going to be a lasting one.