As the music roared and voices filled the room, MSM and I stood at the rear of the restaurant, perfectly positioned fitting “just so” into the human puzzle behind the bar. The mirrored wall to the left containing inscriptions of “today’s fresh oyster” selections reflected a reality to us- this place was extremely crowded to the extent of claustrophobia and the chances of us getting seated any time soon were getting slimmer by the minute. What at first seems to be an extremely cute eatery was turning into a personal hell. Starving and in pain (I made the wrong choice of wearing my five inch healed Alaia booties designed to wear directly from the Taxi to a seat at a table), we started making deals with ourselves. “If we’re not seated in five more minutes, we’re leaving.” Then five minutes would pass. “Ok in TEN more minutes we are out of here.” Perhaps too hungry to actually think of another place to go, I’m not exactly sure what kept us there. We had a reservation at Salt Air at 8:30 and arrived at 8:27. As I have mentioned before, MSM has no belief in being fashionably late and unfortunately in this situation it would have been advantageous to be so. We had already been waiting 35minutes but the people at “our table” were “lingering” despite paying their bill. OK I get it. I actually love embracing that French attitude towards dining; slowly moving through each course, truly enjoying the conversation and in-person contact with your diner-mate (as opposed to the american style of getting it over with and running out so the next person can sit). Obviously the ramifications are great, considering obesity in France is significantly less than here. However, at this moment, in my painful albeit extremely gorgeous booties, I was wishing I could ignite my inner Vampire and compel the hostess to seat us (yeah- too much Vampire Diaries).
After a 38 minute wait, a DIFFERENT two top cleared and we were finally seated. Ahhhhh. My feet! WHOOT! I was ready to celebrate my new found lack of pain, not to mention feed my empty stomach and fuel my dizzy body.
WELCOME TO SALT AIR:
As previously mentioned, Salt Air is really cute. The front patio is ensconced in twinkle lights and has limited seating, all at small french bistro style tables. The coziness continues inside with minimally embellished white washed brick walls, an open high beamed ceiling, and small tables strategically placed. A few, maybe three, larger tables are sprinkled through the room to accommodate parties of 5 or more. Two large billowing plants hug the front door and creep up to the ceiling, adding beauty and probably acoustic padding. The music is loud but fun and though one can not hear conversations around the room, there is no problem hearing the people or person at one’s own table. Perfectly private but open. Can’t ask for more.
The age group was, I’d guess, young professionals 30+. One table of extremely well dressed (Hermes handbag and a fur coat clad) twenty somethings sat in the center table that accommodated their party of six. We are in LA after all. But they seemed an anachronism to me amongst the rest of the array. A few parties of more sophisticatedly aged couples were also there. Hip 60 year olds drinking rose. This was refreshing to see.
After our long wait we were both curious if it was going to be worth it, and I’m happy to say that yes, it mostly was.
MSM ordered a lemonade first. Non-alcoholic. I am extremely picky about lemonade, as I prefer something more tart and less sweet. My father taught me the art of lemonade creation using freshly squeezed lemon slices and just a hint of sugar- perfectly tart. I can’t stand the ones that are so sweet they actually send a shooting pain through your teeth into your brain. This one’s sugar to lemon ratio was precise and delicious.
The infamous tomato soup.
Holy hell. Yeah. A pitcher of dense condensed pulp of tomato is poured into a bowl of frothy cheddar foam creating the most fantastic tomato soup. Perfectly paired with three husky home-made croutons (not so crunchy to scrape your mouth) and a basil leaf topper, this soup is definitely worthy of its world renowned status. The rest of the food here was pretty good, but this soup alone would be the one thing to call me back. The lunch menu includes this soup with a grilled cheese and bacon sandwich. Looking forward to a day of decadence comprised of this meal.
The Mushroom Toast.
This is a delicious thickly sliced toast with a light smear of ricotta topped with caramelized onions, pan seared mushrooms, and thin slices of Jalepeno. It shys in comparison to the tomato soup, but is very tasty. We actually used the toast to clean up the remaining un-spoonable drops of tomato soup, delicious!
As per our waiters suggestion we shared the baked snapper over a bed of pureed butternut squash, topped with minced sweet potatoes (lightly fried) that looked like a hay stack. Our veggie of choice was the roasted broccoli with purred cauliflower and a chimichurri sauce.
The snapper was flavorful but I was a bit overwhelmed by the cardamom and tired of it quickly. The broccoli on the other hand was fantastic. Lightly grilled, its texture was soft with a crispy exterior. I recommend making a meal of this and the tomato soup.
The wine selections were nice here. I paired my main course with a nice Rose from Cote Du Provence, which delicately enhanced the flavor of our meal.
I chose the “fruit selection”, expecting a nice sweet but healthy bowl of fresh berries. Alas, when the desert arrived it appeared I had guessed wrong. Hahaha. The fruit selection was actually a delightful pear and pomegranate tart topped with honeycomb and a side of thinly sliced brie. MSM enjoyed the brie with the tart, explaining that the cheese made the dessert more creamy and smooth on his palate. I preferred my bites without the brie. Don’t get me wrong, I adore brie (I mean its cheese made with Champagne?! Hello!? How could I not love that?!), it was just a bit too rich for my needs at that time.
What the heck to wear to a grandiose restaurant in Venice Beach:
Despite my inability to stand for a long period of time, I felt appropriately dressed. Cocktail attire or a dress would have felt too elaborate. The key to Venice, I think, is finding an outfit that is somehow magnificently stylish but in a sneaky way. Think effortlessly chic. Here’s where knowing Danielle really came in handy.
Overall I liked Salt Air. I enjoyed my time there with MSM. We even found ways to laugh about the initial faux pas on their part regarding the delay with our reservation. I have two grievances: I feel they should have offered us a free glass of wine or dessert to make up for the time delay. Its one thing to have a lag regarding a reservation, but anything over fifteen minutes, I feel, should be made up for in some way. Otherwise, whats the point of making a reservation? Second, though the food was good I’m not so impressed that I feel the need to try anything else on the menu – other than maybe the Monkey Bread dessert (but only because I’ve made that camping and I’m curious to see/taste Salt Air’s rendition). I feel we chose well and ate the best things they had to offer. With that being said, the ambiance was fun and the music was good; I could definitely return for dessert or lunch /brunch for another bowl of that preposterously remarkable soup!