Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Five years ago, B and his parents had a fantastic dinner at BlackSalt Fish Market and Restaurant. I promptly put it on my list of restaurants to try once I moved to DC and then I forgot about it. Fast forward five years, and we finally made it to BlackSalt for dinner.

You enter the restaurant through a bustling (but not stinky) fish market. There is a large bar area with tables and then a somewhat quieter, but not much quieter, restaurant in the back. Since we didn't have a reservation, we were seated in the busy bar area.

The menu features a rotating selection of fresh and sustainable seafood options. If you see something in the market that you don't see on the menu, let them know and they will prepare it for you.

B started with a beet salad that came close to matching his favorite beet salad of all time at the late Hook restaurant in Georgetown.

I started with the bigeye tuna tartare. You can't go three feet in DC without running into a tuna tartare appetizer and, while it is completely overplayed, I have a soft spot for it. I'm glad I went with my (boring) gut because BlackSalt's tuna tartare was the best I've had. The creamy avocado, toasted cashews, and zippy chili aioli elevated this from snoozefest to dance party. I want another one.

For his entree, B ordered the Atlantic big eye tuna in a ginger soy broth. Tuna with a ginger soy sauce is also slapped on nearly every seafood menu in town, but again, BlackSalt knocked it out of the park.

One thing I loved about BlackSalt is that they have appetizer-sized portions of entree-style dishes. For example, the seared dayboat scallops with potato gnocchi are listed on the starters menu and the appetizer size was the perfect amount of food for me. You can also ask to have any of these starters made into an entree-size portion. Flexibility to suit the littlest or biggest appetites.

I admit to ordering this dish just for the gnocchi, but ended up being wowed by the silky smooth scallops and tangy pancetta vinaigrette.

Because it is a felony in my book to turn down peanut butter and chocolate desserts, I ordered the chocolate peanut butter crunch cake with caramelized bananas and peanut butter brittle. High five to the pastry chef at BlackSalt for creating this winner. Also, high five to our waitress who didn't look at us weird when I asked for a box to take half the dessert home to savor later.

I don't know why I waited five years to try BlackSalt, but I won't be waiting another five years to go back.

Second Thoughts from B

As much as any single meal I've had, Black's in Bethesda opened my eyes to how great food can be (read about it here). BlackSalt, like its Maryland sibling, is also a game changer. As J said, the menu offerings are not going to make you fall out of your seat, but the execution will. In my experience, you won't get seafood that is consistently fresher or better prepared.

As someone who loves seafood, it kills me to hear people say that they hate eating fish. Rather, I would suggest that they hate eating poorly prepared fish. If you're one of these people, I'd encourage you to wander down to the Palisades (or Bethesda) and let them change your mind.
BlackSalt Fish Market & Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Kire said...

In my five or so visits I've come to feel they do simple dishes better, Addies mussels excepted. I tried their ciopino once and was underwhelmed.

Kire said...

I should add I love the place.