Last night I took my wife out for a belated birthday dinner. The restaurant was Salts which bills itself as “French influenced contemporary American cuisine” and boasts a nice wine list on it’s web site. We’d been hearing amazing things about the food and it had been near the top of our list of restaurants for special occasions for about 3 years, so we gave it a shot planning to split a bottle of some flinty French chardonnay or Pino Grigio. We got there, opened the menu, and were pleasantly surprised to find a very decent beer listing alongside the wine! Not only that, but they were offering a tasting menu, and would pair it with either wine or beer! Be still my heart…

In the end we decided we weren’t up to drinking quite that much last night, but each had a bottle of Saison DuPont to start (because it goes with ANY food). I followed that up with the chef-recommended Chimay Red to pair with the heartiest dishes in the tasting menu, and it went fairly well with the pork-cheek under halibut, and the steak with mushrooms and bleu cheese. I wouldn’t have chosen Chimay from the many Belgian double options that exist, but that was the one they had available and it was certainly an excellent style to go with the dishes. I’d probably have elected something a little fuller bodied, like a triple or simply a more full double.

All in all a fantastic dinner full of amazing food, and unexpected tasty beer to go with it. Here’s a list of the dishes we were served, as well as I can recall:

  • White asparagus and potato vichyssoise with smoked salmon, faux caviar and dill
  • French white asparagus with house cured jamon, soft cooked farm egg, hazelnut, and aged parmesan foam
  • Citrus and sake-rice cured Hamachi with spring radishes, celery foam, lemon and olive-oil vinaigrette, and shaved black truffle
  • Pan roasted day boat Halibut with braised Berkshire pork cheeks, gremolata with toasted pine nuts, and spring onion marmalade
  • Organic beef Sirloin lightly seared with a bordelais sauce, roasted King oyster mushrooms and a caramelized onion Cambozola “tart tatin” with blue cheese.
    with 4 salts — Australian pink flake, Hawaiian red clay, Hawaiian black lava, and grey smoked
  • Nectarine semifredo with almond cookies and basil ice-cream
  • A “Chocolate Truffle” the size of your fist with a nectarine sorbet, coffee granita, creme fraiche, and crushed cashews
  • The chef also sent out 4 little chocolate-coated peanut brittle truffles, essentially tiny gourmet snickers.

The first few went superbly with the Saison, and as above the Chimay worked well enough with the two heartier dishes. I had an espresso with dessert, although I’d have preferred a nice barleywine (or Dogfish Head 120 minute) with the enormous chocolate dish, and a light Gueuze would have gone fantastically with the nectarine and basil dessert.

I highly recommend doing their tasting menu with beer pairings, it’s a small but excellent list of beer and the food is incredible.

*UPDATE* Corrections made to the food thanks to my wife’s far superior memory.