Best New Restaurant


Calling Salt a "new" restaurant doesn't feel quite right. In part that's because St. Louis diners got to know owner Wes Johnson's cooking at the Shaved Duck and Eclipse before he opened this, his first restaurant. His love of duck fat is once again on display: duck-fat frites, sorghum-lacquered duck, duck fat-fried chicken (see, ahem, "Best Fried Chicken"). What's more, the idea behind Salt is so appealing that it's difficult to believe it hadn't already been done. Here is a restaurant neither too casual nor too pretentious — where several dishes are served inside Mason jars, but one of those relies on the flashy tricks of modernist cuisine, sealing a puff of woodsmoke inside the jar with a seared scallop. Here, too, is a chef who tackles all the touchstones of American dining circa 2011 (local produce, charcuterie, a menu that lets you cobble together your own meal from plates large and small) but is unafraid of "St. Louis cuisine," having included on his menu both pork steak and, yes, Provel cheese. Salt is a restaurant we should have been enjoying all along. For the fact that we finally are, we have Wes Johnson and his staff to thank.

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