We returned to SALT & PEPPER (www.saltandpepperdc.com/) last night with friends to discover that the chefs/manager we met last summer have departed for California. We aren't sure why, but things in the kitchen are not as smooth, although the food is overall still quite good.
Our sever James was certainly quite nice, although a bit aloof. We did have to repeat requests like the kid's Shirley Temples. He was very positive about the new chefs and when I inquired about the fab drinks and wine that the previous team had created, he said they were gone, but replaced with top notch items on the new menu. The burgers are still a main feature here, although the menu items have expanded to fine dining items as well.
The kids had the Burger Sliders with French Fries. Sam asked for the Parmesan fries which he loved and then begged for an extra serving after he was done! The aioli dip for the fries that he adored is, alas, gone.
The yummy bread and focaccia came to the table with a red pepper tapenade spread that Sam (and I) gobbled up as well as roasted garlic cloves in oil that were divine (especially mixed with the tapenade).
I tried the FIERY SWEETNESS made with Hangar One Citron Vodka, Cointreau, OJ, Muddled Jalapeno, Strawberry and a dash of Grenadine. The drink size has been severely reduced from the huge martinis of last year and the taste is nice, but I won't rave. Will had the BIT O' GINGER made from FINLANDIA Grapefruit Vodka, Grapefruit Juice, Honey Syrup, Muddled Ginger and Ginger Beer...which tasted like a sweet grapefruit juice with a punch.
We ordered a bottle of red, and they were out, so James suggested a superb RIGLAS GRAN MALBEC 2006 from Mendoza, Argentina that had lots of flavor, a hint of spice and nice body.
The starter prices tend to be in the mid-teens dollar-wise, but don't be fooled. The POUTINE is a huge portion that could easily make a main course and more. Yukon Gold Potatoes and Sweet Potato Fries make up this dish smothered with DUCK CONFIT, Parmesan & Gruyere Cheeses and Duck Gravy. I will finish more than half of this at home as the week progresses! It is a bit decadent, but a true gem of a dish that could be a signature one if they bill it right.
The CAPRESE Salad was huge as well and our friend said the Burrata was some of the best he has ever had, not to mention the huge red juicy Beefsteak Tomatoes with Rosemary Salt.
SHRIMP DUMPLINGS came in a Gingered Organic Broth with Plum Tomato and Crisp Garlic and were nice.
The main courses of Grilled PORK TENDERLOINS with Creamed SPINACH & Celery Root Puree with Guiness Demi Glace got some raves and the JUMBO LUMP CRABCAKES Special came with two HUGE cakes laden with crab, Sweet & Sour Lentils and Baby Green Beans on the side with a Lobster Sauce. My MAINE LOBSTER ROLL was also huge and the Tarrangon Mayo had a slight bite for taste, but the yummy PRETZEL ROLL had a bit too much coarse salt on it taking away from the tasty chunks of shellfish that flowed out of the sandwich!
The disaster at the table was the SMOKED & BRAISED BRISKET of BEEF that came to Will as dry and bland as could be. The smoking process way overkilled the beef. There were okay Green Beans & Fingerling Potatoes, but the Goat Cheese Custard tasted off and was not even custard-like. It went back to the kitchen promptly and Will replaced it with a starter of the divine POUTINE, which he will also will be able to eat the rest of the week at home!
We looked at dessert menus and then decided we could eat no more and it was late for the kids as well, who behaved brilliantly.
A wonderful evening with friends save for the Brisket!