Judging by the Monday evening crowd, Salt Cellar is a welcome addition to the Cathedral Hill neighborhood. At 6 p.m. the bar was packed with early holiday revelers and happy hour devotees.
The restaurant opens at 4 p.m. daily with a special happy hour menu that is served until 6 p.m. (happy hour prices kick in later at night as well - from 10 p.m. to close). Select taps that include Fulton's Sweet Child O' Vine, Indeed's seasonal selection, Summit EPA, Liftbridge Chestnut Ale and Alaskan Amber are $2 off. Signature cocktails like the Old Blue Eyes, a more Liz Taylor lavendar colored concoction of Patron, blueberries, sweet and sour topped with more berries and jalapenos are also $2 off. (Most cocktails are normally priced at $9.) The Brown Derby is a mix of Knob Creek bourbon, Grapefruit juice, agave nectar and garnished with fresh grapefruit peel.
Beginning at 5 p.m. the dining room opens and the full menu is rolled out. The entirety reads like a flashback to an earlier era. Nothing is new, but all are subtle twists on classics. Ribbons of made-on-site gravlax top aioli, garnished with sumac and served with fried lotus chips for $12. Oysters are available either on the halfshell or gratinee: topped with Fernet, bacon, Pernod and breadcrumbs.
The forager chef, Alan Bergo has a cream of bolete (mushroom) soup that's as earthy as a Minnesota forest floor after a rainfall for $8. There's also lobster bisque and a Wisconsin sourced snapping turtle soup.
Salads include a tableside made (in the dining room only) Caesar salad made the old fashioned way, beginning with an egg cracked into a bowl. There's also a green goddess, wedge and nicoise.
Entrees include spatchcocked chicken, vegetable pot au feu, seared scallops and parpadelle. Prices top out at $27.
Red meat seems to be the star with a salty crusted burger that is cooked to perfection. Steaks are available by the traditional cuts like New York Strip, tenderloin, prime rib or sirloin culotte where the top price for the prime rib is $48. There's also a tableside chateaubriand for $80.
Desserts include a flaming, old school bananas foster. All that's old is new inside this spot.