Smell the Ocean Yet?
If Delaware can be said to have a cuisine all its own, the new Salt Air defines it perfectly. Localvores, dig in.
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It’s a neat thought. Many places use great locally sourced products, but Salt Air takes them to a new height. All signs seem to indicate Spivak and Mancari might be onto something.
Several elements of Salt Air can be attributed to Highwater Management, the food service consulting company run by area gurus Matt Haley, Bryony Ziegler and Scott Kamerera. Highwater was responsible for recruiting and training Salt Air’s excellent servers, and Zeigler assisted with interior design.
This confluence of talent, with manager Lauren Huey, results in a dining room that is clean looking, well-run and unfussy, maybe even minimalist. Local art, including several abstract pieces by Spivak and beach scenes by Ziegler, hang on white walls, which, curiously, are tapered and tattered before they reach the ceiling, as they were when the space still housed Fusion. Beach towels hang on a clothesline on one wall. From an adjacent wall hangs a sizable tangle of driftwood. Full-length windows face relatively peaceful Wilmington Avenue and Confucius Chinese Cuisine.
Highwater-trained staff is one of the restaurant’s strengths. Servers are impressively well versed on all dishes, from ingredients and their applications to preparation, tastes and textures. Most were young, friendly and enthusiastic, a good combination for the beach. And I never waited long for food or drinks, though the place was jammed.
The food falls on Mancari’s able shoulders. Here is a talented chef who clearly loves to shake the menu up and take advantage of quality ingredients, especially when it comes to fish. As a result, many of Mancari’s daily specials were too tempting to pass.
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