58 MacDougal Street
New York, NY 10012
(212) 674-4968

This Mother's Day, Bro and Dudeman and I took shrink to Salt, the American restaurant with a Mediterranean twist in SoHo. "I love this neighborhood" Dudeman said, lamenting somewhat the decision that he and Shrink made forty years ago to root themselves in Gramercy. "I wish we lived here. We should have moved here." Of course, that won't happen until dad gets a tattoo and mom gets a dog she can fit into a stroller. But the thought's what counts. Like any offspring, I fear that my parent's as they age, are getting less cool. Add this to the fact that I have yet to experience a single day when I felt my parents were ever cool, and you can understand the minor sense of happiness that I'd felt. Ahhh, they aren't homebodies who refuse to eat anywhere but at the same diner every day. Yet.

When we arrived at 7, it was sunny and Salt was virtually deserted. No one was there save a family (with kids) that arrived ten seconds before we did. But by the time we left, Salt was packed with people, none fitting into any specific age or income demographic, though given the price, these specific artists probably weren't starving. Indeed, Salt is one of the pricier of the restaurants that I've been to this year. Appetizers average $13 and entrees average $25.

Salt is a loud place. You don't have to yell to have a conversation, but no one will notice if you do. We sat by the window in one of the tables for four. Most of the seating here is at communal tables where you are likely to rub elbows with your fellow diners. I don't particularly like this, but it does add a certain level of casual intimacy, like you're in a high school dining hall. Of course, I hated high school, so draw your own conclusions about that one.

Anyway, Dudeman ordered a bottle of wine and we each started choosing appetizers. Shrink ordered the Honey Glazed Dates Wrapped in Bacon. They are exactly what they sound like, and of course, that means they were delicious. Everyone liked them with the one small complaint that the honey was a little excessive. It almost overpowered the rest of the flavor. So, if you like your sweets ultra sweet (after all, a date is little more than a fruit flavored sugar cube), order this. Otherwise I suggest that you ask for them to go light on the honey. Bro chose the Cream of Cauliflower Soup with mushroom and truffle "essence". Again, another winner. Again, it was liked all around. Again, one minor complaint. I found that it was a little too thin. This is more a complaint about its texture than its flavor, of which I have no complaints. Dudeman went with the Homemade Merguez Sausage, served on a bed of greens and pearl onions. Very good. The large sausage was heavily spiced but not spicy. Those of you who appreciate a Mediterranean flavor to your food will definitely not be disappointed. My appetizer was the Asparagus and Sweet Pea Risotto. Fantastic. It had a moving van's worth of flavor and was as smooth as asparagus/pea butter.

The appetizers were all excellent. The entrees were a little hit or miss. Shrink ordered the Grilled Donade Royale in a balsamic reduction sauce with yukon gold puree and braised leeks. She and Bro liked it, but felt it was a little bland. Dudeman and I did not like it, arguing that it was too fishy for our taste. So if you were Shrink or Dudeman, the vegetables and balsamic reduction were used not as complimentary flavors, but as the taste itself. Meanwhile, if you were Dudeman or me, the sides and sauce were there to mask the fishiness. Dudeman chose the Roasted Day Boat Fish. "Day Boat" meaning the catch of the day, which today was cod, served on a bed of vegetables. In this instance,the table was not divided by their reaction. While no one necessarily disliked it, the cod was virtually devoid of flavor. "This is like solid air" Dudeman quipped.

Well, if the grownups were disappointed, the kids did just fine. Bro's dinner was the Whole Wheat Fettuccine, made with sweet Italian sausage, sage, garlic and a Grana Padano cheese. Everyone except me thought that this was the best entree of the lot. Bro liked the soft texture of the fettuccine, I liked how cream smooth the cheese was. Whole wheat pasta can sometimes be so gritty that it's like eating noodles made of sand. That wasn't the case here. The pasta was not as silky as it would have been had it not been whole wheat, but that tiny bit of earthiness worked well with the sausage flavor in the sauce. I thought that my dinner, the Braised Pork Belly with a chicory sauce, scallions and mashed potatoes was the best. So tender you could cut it with a dull spoon, the pork literally melted in your mouth. Eat your heart out Dinosaur BBQ. The thing you need to know about pork belly is that it's probably the least lean meat you can buy. I mean, look at that fat layering! But here's the thing. The fat tastes like meat (soft, smooth like butter meat) and you're supposed to eat it. So, don't be on a diet when you order this or you'll watch your progress vanish faster than you can say Jenny Craig.

When dessert time came, The Rents had no tummy space left. We all got espresso-based coffees (they don't do drip), but it was up to Bro and I to add any further real calories to the bill. Bro's choice, the Reine De Saba, a bittersweet chocolate cake with shaved almonds and a side of creme fraiche ice cream was just that. Bitter. Sweet. Chocolate. Rich. When I was a kid, my favorite Good Humor ice cream bar was the Strawberry Shortcake flavor. Actually it still is. Therefore, ordering the Strawberry Shortcake was almost a reflex action for me. Good, but veerrrryyyy cinnamonny. Too much so for me. But hey, if you like strawberries and cinnamon, you'll love this and want to have its babies.

Four appetizers, four entrees, two desserts, two cappuccinos, two lattes, five glasses of wine and one beer, plus tax, plus tip weighed in at $311.23.

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