Salt: new flavor on tavern scene

April 12, 2006|By SLOANE BROWN

Folks in the Butchers Hill/Patterson Park/Fells Prospect area are about to have another new neighbor to welcome: the area's newest restaurant, Salt. Owner-chef Jason Ambrose describes the place as a "neo-American tavern."

"It's not a traditional tavern because there's so much natural light there, and [a lot of what] I do is a play on tavern food," Ambrose says.

Let's start with the location: the corner of Pratt Street and Collington Avenue, in a space that housed a bar called Fran's. Ambrose says he's had the building for a year and a half, and gutted it to make way for his eatery.

That meant lots of exposed brick walls and three large windows along Pratt Street, to let in all that natural light. Throw in a granite bar, a mirrored and backlit back bar, some blue felt and black "pleather" banquettes - and you've got the "neo" part of the equation. And we didn't even get to the blue ceiling.

"When I walk in there, there's a very warm feeling with the way the light hits the brick. ... [Yet] it's a very clean, modern look, too," Ambrose says.

The menu also has a very modern look. There are appetizers like a wild mushroom risotto cake with crumbled blue cheese and red-wine reduction ($8), marinated grilled calamari with fennel, orange and olive salsa ($7) and tuna tartare in a savory wasabi cone ($10). Remember Ambrose's "play on tav ern food?" How about a foie gras and sirloin slider burger with truffle aioli and red-onion marmalade ($14)? Not exactly White Castle fare.

Salt entrees include coriander-and-pepper-crusted tuna served over seaweed salad with spicy tuna pot stickers and a ginger-soy glaze ($19), seared pork chop with vanilla-scented apples and cheddar potato gratin ($16) and grilled rib-eye steak with crispy blue-cheese fingerling potatoes and asparagus ($23).

As for how Ambrose came up with this whole tavern-meets-New American concept, you need look no further than his work history as a sous-chef at the now-defunct Soigne and chef at Fells Point's popular pub restaurant Henninger's.

Salt, 410-276-5480, is scheduled to be open any day now, and you'll find it at 2127 E. Pratt St. Its planned hours are 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Salt will be closed Sunday.

So long, Limoges

Fans of the French bistro Limoges are mourning its end, which occurred about a week and a half ago. Limoges manager Jenia Sokoloff says there were two causes, neither of which was that business wasn't good.

"We want everyone to know that we had a very successful year, so that's not the reason we're closing," she says.

Instead, Sokoloff says owners Mahmood and Wazhma Karzai decided to move to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where he does a lot of business. And Sokoloff and Limoges chef Matt Conover decided to get married and move to New York City for a while.

Meantime, the restaurant has been sold to Sam Curreri, who was the general manager at Chiapparelli's Restaurant for 15 years. No surprise, but Curreri says he's planning to turn the space into an Italian eatery, Sammy's Trattoria. Curreri says he's pretty happy with the restaurant interior as is, so when he opens his place, you probably won't notice many changes.

Speaking of which, that opening is scheduled to take place by the end of this month. Stay tuned.

If you have information regarding a local restaurant's opening, closing or major changes, please e-mail that information to or fax it to 410-675-3451.

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