Rehoboth Dining: The Redo—Salt Air
At a Glance
50 Wilmington Ave., Rehoboth, 227-3744, saltairrestaurant.com
Marinated olives, roast chicken, Old Bay-chipotle wings, mahi-mahi
Starters $4-$13, entrées $16-$28
When Salt Air opened in 2009, it represented the return of restaurant veteran Jonathan Spivak to the Rehoboth scene. But his hiatus put Salt Air on hold until Eric and Norman Sugrue of Big Fish fame rescued it this year.
The brothers renovated the cramped kitchen and gave the dining room a farmhouse chic decor with wicker baskets, wrought iron wine buckets, mason jar glasses and a servers’ station with barn siding.
Briny olives tossed with orange chunks, thyme and rosemary was a lively starter. Equally vibrant was a refreshing timbale of gold beets, roasted in the oven with herbs and orange juice and topped with a slather of whipped goat cheese. Wings—brined overnight and coated with a chipotle and Old Bay rub—weren’t as pretty after a good grilling, but the blackened babies packed a zesty punch.
Big Fish has a wholesale division, so expect to find plenty of seafood options. New England clam chowder was full of tender clams and potatoes, which remained nicely firm in the creamy soup. Mahi-mahi, perched on pearl couscous, was perfectly cooked. I couldn’t say the same for the halibut, a beautiful piece of fish that was overdone to dryness. Its bed of black beluga lentils was cool.
Plumes of smoke curled from the shrimp, scallops, fish and mussels in the seafood stew. The tomato broth, perfumed with saffron, was delicious. Unfortunately, the fragile seafood suffered in the high heat.
We were back on track with the organic roasted chicken, a signature dish in Salt Air’s early days. Like the previous version, the chicken is brined before visiting the oven, producing juicy results.
Since opening, Salt Air has switched chefs, and the menu changes on a weekly basis. Expect experimentation. Given its dedication to seasonal products and fish, that’s a fine thing.