Salt Gastrobar has renewed our faith in Isla Verde’s culinary scene. The hotel street best known for dreary and unimaginative food and beverage offerings has just been put on notice with this exciting new project located in the 1st floor lobby of the Howard Johnson Hotel. Salt is a rousing foodie experience and remarkably stylish. It’s also accessible, with the Howard Johnson’s parking lot (the best on the whole Condado-Isla Verde strip) at its disposal.
We normally don’t go too far into interior design at foodiespr.com, but Salt really does stand out from the crowd for its use of negative space. Where even the most high end restaurants will often crowd tables on top of each other in a quest for larger maximum capacity, Salt possesses a Feng Shui-like positive energy by letting the area breathe. Where there could have been 3 tables, there is only an elongated arm lamp that serves as window dressing. It doesn’t feel like a restaurant, it feels like a show room or pimped out penthouse apartment you wish you could live in.
On to the food, cuz, well, that’s why you read this. Xavier Toro is one our favorite restaurant show runners and he invited us to a tasting of the tapas style menu. We started with this…
…and immediately fell in love with Chef Rene Marichal’s vision. Smoked Oysters, mango-relish & Tabasco foam. INTENSE! The smoke goes straight to the nostrils and the Tabasco foam settled down at the back of the tongue. Together they encased my senses with a pincer like grip. My immediate reaction was to slam the bar with my fist and take a deep quaff of the Albariño Xavier had recommended. SHAZAM! The crispy La Cana with muted citrus flavors stroked my palate and whispered “everything is going to be alright”. Somewhere in all of this there was a fleeting memory of a deliciously fresh oyster that wriggled down my throat and THAT, is the kind of experience you dream about as a foodie. Amen!
We followed up with Paella Cakes topped with Onion Beefsteak and an avocado foam (see the trend here), sure to be a top seller and after that a fried snapper over taro root (malanga) mash. Dessert also had a coconut foam and that was what we saw speckled throughout the menu; lots foams, smoke and salt.
Hats off to the wine list as well, none of that supermarket crap. Plenty of bold options to pair with the boldest statement Isla Verde has made in years.
Howard Johnson Hotel
4820, Isla Verde Avenue