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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Seafood dishes persisted as Salt Air’s strong suit. Grilled ahi tuna and pan-roasted day boat scallops were handled expertly, both just barely cooked in the middle and paired with, respectively, mixed veggies and woodsy crimini mushrooms.
A crab cake entrée paired two fried mounds with a mustardy rémoulade. The kitchen seemed to aim for a more interesting mix of meats instead of the jumbo lump-only cakes preferred by purists. Salt Air’s cake was flavorful and dense, but lacked that break-apart-with-your fork tenderness you get with the simplified versions. Yet the cakes were seasoned perfectly with a bit of citrus.
In the earthen realm, London broil is served backyard barbecue style, which means grilling flank steak, slicing it into inch-thick pieces, then serving them with a mélange of grilled and raw tomatoes and marinated grilled red onions. A peppery, vinegary, tomato-based barbecue sauce pooled on the plate, making an eye-popping backdrop to all the magnificent reds, maroons and burgundies of the dish. The beef itself had some issues, however. A medium rare order arrived closer to rare, and a few of the slices, cut much thicker than London broil is typically cut, were chewy. Other pieces were cooked perfectly. It’s a risk you run with a long-fibered cut of beef.
Spivak handles the wine program, and it’s a quality, modest and affordable one. A glass of Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley’s Dynamite Vineyards was so rich with oaky flavors, I later bought a bottle at Total Wine. Some creative drinks use more local produce. Take the potent cantaloupe martini and the fizzy, clean-tasting strawberry-lime Italian soda.
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