Wednesday, September 28, 2011

SALT & PEPPER sprinkles on perfect neighborhood cooking (9-27-11)

Last night we headed down to our neighborhood dining area in the
Palisades on MacArthur Blvd to SALT & PEPPER which moved into the spot
previously occupied by Battery Kemble Tavern. Owners/Chefs Lindsey &
Nate Auchter have done a beautiful job redecorating with wavy wooden
fllors, booths with windows opening on a side hallway (Samuel loved
running around and sticking his head in) and a nice (and not noisy)
neighborhood feel with a touch of class and great soft, but upbeat,
music as well. Be sure to take a break and head down the side hallway
to see the unisex bathroom with both a Ken & Barbie doll on the door.
If you want to watch the goings on in the kitchen, there is a full
glass wall at the rear of the dining room onto the kitchen.

We had met the owners/chefs recently at the AIWF CrabCake Competition
now named in memory of our dear friend Karen Cathey, and Lindsey &
Nate got us all excited about the new spot just 4 minutes from out
house. They met us and were oh so gracious; you do feel at home here.
Lindsey knows tons about wines, but we saw the drink menu and could
not resist the martinis. Samuel had a Shirley Temple, Will went for
the Spaaaah Martini made with Veev Acai Liquor, Square One Cucumber
Vodka, Fresh Squeezed Lemonade and Sparkling wine which is refreshing
and tasty, but I adored the spice and slight sweetness of the Salt &
Pepper Martini made with Black Peppercorn Tito's Handmade Vodka, Red
Cherry Puree, Main Root Lemon-Lime Soda and Pomegranate Grenadine. The
drinks are huge and pack a punch; no skimping here!

Samuel ordered the kids portion (1/2 size of adult) of Buttermilk-
Brined FRIED CHICKEN (Tennessee) which comes with Braised Greens and
mac & cheese (Sam substituted fries as he is not a mac & cheese
child). The chicken was fried to perfection and oh so tasty and the
white meat was juicy as could be.

We chose two starters to share:
LOBSTER POPPERS with Essential Sauce which were very tasty morsels of
Maine Lobster (incidentally, almost every item on the menu gives its
state of origin for the main ingredient) with a to die for dipping
sauce like a remoulade with a slight punch from Guajillo Peppers.
PUMPKIN RICE FRITTERS (Pennsylvania) are NOT to be missed huge round
balls deep fried to perfection, salted nicely and then served with a
creamy chive and lemon dipping sauce.

BURGERS (Texas) here are a main item and made from all natural
humanely raised Wagyu beef. Don't miss these HUGE juicy burgers that
Will declared better than Ray's in Arlington (and you don't have to
wait in line!).
He had the Morning/Noon/Nigh which comes with Cheddar, Bacon, Fried
Egg, Lettuce, Tomato and Onion (which he removed and replaced with
Sauteed Portobello chunks!). My "regular" burger was treated to the
add-ons of ROGUE SMOKEY BLUE cheese and fresh Spinach. It was one of
the best burgers anywhere. The buns are brioche-like dough and I asked
if the pastry chef was responsible; she was not, but they were great,
We ordered a bottle of CABERNET (you know how rarely we do that) on
Lindsey's suggestion from Napa made by Kathryn HALL 2007. It opened up
after about 5 minutes offering coffee and blackberry notes and was
indeed just right with the burgers.
Samuel called the Hand Cut Fries that come with the burgers
"unstoppable" once he started trying them with the divine ESSENTIAL
Sauce (described above).

Dessert is a main attraction at SALT & PEPPER...Samuel wolfed down the
WARM BROWNIE SANDAUE with Vanilla Ice Cream, Whipped Cream and we
adored the Chocolate Covered Salted Walnuts. The PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE is
not heavy like so many and has an airy, but filling feel with Maple
Sauce, Cinnamon Creme Anglaise, Whipped Cream and Candied Pecans. We
were all in heaven and very full, but they need to package those nuts,
not to mention the Essential Sauce!
SALT & PEPPER shakes it up JUST RIGHT!