Shh…. Salt Tasting Room is a Vancouver secret
Todd Wong hold up his glass at the Salt Tasting Room, with the daily menu chalkboard behind on the wall. – photo Judy Maxwell
Salt Tasting Room
Back in early September the Vancouver Sun published Vancouver slurp-and-swirl a top-five secret – it was a story about the results of a Travelocity.ca poll which asked members for their top Canadian local secrets. I couldn't find an entry about Salt Tasting Room – but I did find a link for British Columbia local secrets.
Even though I hadn't been to the Salt Tasting Room yet, I felt that I was already in on the secret because I had a gift certificate for the restaurant. It had been sitting on the shelf since April 21st when I won the door prize at the BC Book Prize soiree event. (read my my article).
I finally went last Sunday. It was a cold drizzly Thanksgiving Day Sunday, the kind best spent indoors with wine and cheese. And besides, I was moving pretty slowly after paddling 3 canoe races Saturday at the Ft. Langley Cranberry Festival Canoe Regatta.
The first remarkable thing you notice about Salt, is that it isn't the usual restaurant on a street – it's down an alley…Blood Alley is so-called because there used to be many butcher shops along the alley way… or is it because of Gastown's pioneer days there used to be lots of muggings? Owner Sean Heather writes on the Salt blog that “Salt’s
location will have the look and feel of NY’s meat packing district,
right down to the cobblestones.” I recognized the location across from Salt as being used in the Catwoman movie with Halle Berry.
You can sit in the window, at the zinc bar (very cool and shiny) or at the long 18 ft spruce table made from a 700 year old tree in the main room. I chose the window seats so my friends could easily see me when they came in. The first thing we talked about was walking down the alley.
Salt is rightly called a tasting room. There is no kitchen. Cured meats are served, hence the name salt, along with fine cheeses and nice wines. The concept is to match cured meats and artisan cheeses, with delightful condiments and great wines.
For $15, you choose a platter of 3 items. We asked the server to select her favorite things for us. Ash Camembert and Comte cheeses arrived with Mike's Corned Beef. They were each paired with their own matching condiment. Ambrosia apples, balsamic reduction and Guinness mustard. We also ordered a side dish of Coppa meat which the server behind the bar suggested.
Our wines were deep delicious reds. I had the Shingleback Cabernet Sauvignon, and my companion had the blended d'Arenberg Shiraz Viognier. Everything was very tasty – perfect for sampling this and that… looking out the window and feeling warm and cosy inside.
Our third companion arrived and I ordered another plate. This time I chose the sea salt chorizo, and artigiano salami while Judy chose the bleu de Gex cheese. The setting was great. Not too crowded, but still warm and cosy in this post-modern West-Coast wood, zinc and concrete decor. And too soon… our time shared was over.
There's a great opening blog that details how the restaurant was put together. It includes the trials and tribulations and pictures of how the large tables were put together… fascinating.
Donna Green, Todd Wong and Judy Maxwell – enjoying cured meats, cheeses, condiments, wines and friendship. photo J.Maxwell