Jump to content

BlackSalt, MacArthur Boulevard in Palisades - with Executive Chef and Fishmonger Jeff Gaetjen


Recommended Posts

Just to bump this thread and say that happy hour really is nice here.

A dozen very good oysters for a dozen dollars.  Mussels "malata" (Smoked Greens, Chilies, Squash), a very reasonable portion for $9, and thankfully not the same old universal mussel preparation.  And you could either get sloppy on martinis for $7 or pace yourself by going off-happy-hour to get a "Up A Creek," (BlackSalt Private Barrel Catoctin Creek Rye, Wilks & Wilson Orgeat, St-Germain, Lemon) which was delicious.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 188
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

We went to pick up some sushi-grade fish at BlackSalt Market yesterday (their market is very well-stocked, and I don't know of any better fish markets in the Washington, DC area). Anyway, after *four

Jeff Gaetjen is something of a local legend among DC Chefs - he has been around, seemingly forever, and is currently listed as "Fishmonger and Executive Chef" of BlackSalt - I'm not sure whether or no

The fish counter was well-stocked today. There's a young-ish gentleman who always works behind it, and he has been consistently reliable in terms of which fish are, and aren't, sashimi quality. Today,

Posted Images

We were also there on Monday evening, both to seek relief from rush hour traffic and to celebrate Gubeen's most recent career move.  The front room was doing a reasonable trade, but we enjoyed the quiet of having a rather empty back "wine" dining room to ourselves for a while.  Monday isn't theoretically ideal for either seafood or for your favorite spots being open for dinner, but BlackSalt didn't disappoint.  Excellent oysters Rockefeller, beautifully crisped skin on the red snapper / buckwheat ramen on the daily specials list.

But just as memorably, really, really good service.  Comfortable, unforced, unintrusive yet ever-present.  I didn't count how many times the shell plate for her moules was changed...it would simply be replaced every time it started to look two-thirds full.  I personally hadn't been in years, partly from a long period of not venturing into DC enough, but this is going back onto my radar.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

We were also there on Monday evening, both to seek relief from rush hour traffic and to celebrate Gubeen's most recent career move.  The front room was doing a reasonable trade, but we enjoyed the quiet of having a rather empty back "wine" dining room to ourselves for a while.  Monday isn't theoretically ideal for either seafood or for your favorite spots being open for dinner, but BlackSalt didn't disappoint.  Excellent oysters Rockefeller, beautifully crisped skin on the red snapper / buckwheat ramen on the daily specials list.

But just as memorably, really, really good service.  Comfortable, unforced, unintrusive yet ever-present.  I didn't count how many times the shell plate for her moules was changed...it would simply be replaced every time it started to look two-thirds full.  I personally hadn't been in years, partly from a long period of not venturing into DC enough, but this is going back onto my radar.

Wish I could agree. Have been there several times. Latest meal included entree that was raw, another main course lacking in flavor. Indifferent staff and stale bread. Really felt taken advantage of. No excuse at these prices.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Have to agree with Rorkin, unfortunately.  Our recent experience here was bland and muddle flavors, distracted staff, and great disappointment compared to Black Salt of 3-4 years ago.  I used to think of Black Salt as roughly equivalent to Hank's, albeit with somewhat different focus.  But that dinner falls far short of any meal I've ever had at Hank's.  At similar prices, you could have an amazing meal at Fishnook or Rappahannock.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I make it 3 nays.  Especially the service - once warm and solicitous, now indifferent and harried - and the gravity defying prices - once moderate for once terrific quality.  If you live in the Palisades, nice to have a neighborhood fish joint to walk to albeit an expensive one (happy hour might make sense).  But a special trip down MacArthur these days?

Perhaps reflective of my recent experience: on our last visit, trying to get the attention of fish counter staff for take-home purchases was a test of endurance & patience.  Yo, take my money please!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I hate to dissent from the recent dissent, but I just had a very good meal there.  One so-so appetizer special; a very good salmon tartare; good mussels as always; and two excellent entrees -- smokey swordfish and whole branzino.  The prices are high and the food has some variance.  But Blacksalt is still able to put out great food.  I hope that they read this board and focus on consistency. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I got an email this week from the folks at Littorai (a really, really great producer of wine in California) are hosting a wine dinner her in late February. After recent comments I saw in this thread I had half a mind to ping them and suggest they read this thread.  Wonder if I still should? 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I make it 3 nays.

I had previously dropped BlackSalt behind Et Voila in the Dining Guide, and that's before these three reviews. I'm listening; I hope the restaurant is, too.

I hate to dissent from the recent dissent, but I just had a very good meal there.  One so-so appetizer special; a very good salmon tartare; good mussels as always; and two excellent entrees -- smokey swordfish and whole branzino.  The prices are high and the food has some variance.  But Blacksalt is still able to put out great food.  I hope that they read this board and focus on consistency. 

Six write-ups this year by experienced diners: three positive, three negative - nothing to panic about.

I got an email this week from the folks at Littorai (a really, really great producer of wine in California) are hosting a wine dinner her in late February. After recent comments I saw in this thread I had half a mind to ping them and suggest they read this thread.  Wonder if I still should? 

Ping Littorai? Nah, the sample size is way too small to draw any definitive conclusions, and you know BlackSalt will be on their game that evening.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I hope that they read this board and focus on consistency. 

Same.   Not long after our very nice meal, we visited for happy hour and found several items (fish and chips, calamari) disappointing; the former weren't as crisp as they ought to be, and the latter were heavily oversalted (and I like salt).  We let them know, but the calamari in particular should never have left the kitchen.  Day of the week?  Just the fryer station?  I don't know, but that much unpredictability isn't a desirable trait.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Have been eating here for years.  They closed last year due to a flood in the building and had to renovate.  I have never had a bad meal here.  The specials are great, the oysters and clams and salads steady.  The made-to-order clam chowder is excellent. They have had a bouillabase as a special that is outstanding.

Service is always consistent, and the maitre d actually went outside and put quarters in my meter when I asked him for change since I was there a little longer than exppected; went above and beyond.   The bread is good and the open kitchen concept nice if you have kids who want to watch their food being prepared.  

Reasonable for the quality of food offered.  Park at a meter on the side or one of the side streets, not at the shopping center.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
54 minutes ago, Ferris Bueller said:

Have been eating here for years.  They closed last year due to a flood in the building and had to renovate.  I have never had a bad meal here.  The specials are great, the oysters and clams and salads steady.  The made-to-order clam chowder is excellent. They have had a bouillabase as a special that is outstanding.

Service is always consistent, and the maitre d actually went outside and put quarters in my meter when I asked him for change since I was there a little longer than exppected; went above and beyond.   The bread is good and the open kitchen concept nice if you have kids who want to watch their food being prepared.  

Reasonable for the quality of food offered.  Park at a meter on the side or one of the side streets, not at the shopping center.

Thanks for the tip on the bouillabaisse. I love a well executed version and it sounds like that is what they do.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/27/2016 at 9:20 PM, Pool Boy said:

Thanks for the tip on the bouillabaisse. I love a well executed version and it sounds like that is what they do.

Went here after an astoundingly excellent concert (Branford Marsalis Quartet with Kurt Elling at the Barns at Wolf Trap). It'd been too damn long and it worth a revisit. I'm not going to go in to a full, in depth review, but here are some bits and pieces --

  1. Service - quite good.
  2. Cocktails - kind of forgettable. Ordered stuff from their list and discovered they were a bit too sweet for our palates. Oh well.
  3. Oysters Rockefeller - OK, no need to re-try these.
  4. Sardines - excellent dish.
  5. Golden tilefish - Really good dish. Mmmm.
  6. Another fish dish, this one an entree - very good.
  7. Bouillabaisse - Solid, but I found the broth 'thick' for a bouillabaisse - still looking for an excellent version in DC to scratch that itch.
  8. Wine List - really good, but overpriced. Indulged a bit and later wished we'd gone cheap.

I'll be back eventually, no super rush to, though. Unless sardinessssssss.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/12/2015 at 8:01 PM, sheldman said:

Just to bump this thread and say that happy hour really is nice here.

A dozen very good oysters for a dozen dollars.  Mussels "malata" (Smoked Greens, Chilies, Squash), a very reasonable portion for $9, and thankfully not the same old universal mussel preparation.  And you could either get sloppy on martinis for $7 or pace yourself by going off-happy-hour to get a "Up A Creek," (BlackSalt Private Barrel Catoctin Creek Rye, Wilks & Wilson Orgeat, St-Germain, Lemon) which was delicious.

It is nice that they have a happy hour 7 days a week (albeit slightly abbreviated hours on Saturday and Sunday).  I was there yesterday (Sunday) and while it certainly busy, there was usually always two seats together at the bar available during the entire 2 hour period.  IMHO the happy hour bar menu is quite a bargain given the quality of what you get (although some items have bumped up a couple dollars or so since 2015)..  In addition to the bar, it is also available in the ample cafe seating area (not the dining room).  I have gone during the week occasionally around 5pm and found it busy but still able to snag a couple seats at the bar.  Having to traverse the Chain Bridge during rush hour is a strong disincentive to making Blacksalt a regular happy hour stop during the week for us.  I was told some time ago by the bartender that on Saturdays the bar area does start filling up around the 4pm start of happy hour.  All in all, there are worse places to sit on a Sunday afternoon for a couple of hours watching a football game on TV.  May need to make this a Sunday tradition.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Ventured here again for lunch yesterday, had not been in some time.  They now have the Express Lunch menu, pick 3 for $22 or pick 4 for $28.  A great value and the Caesar Salad was one of the best I have had in a long time.  The Addie's Mussel's were packing just enough heat (chili pepper) for a nice twist.  Walked in at 1 PM and was seated no problem (2), but the place was not busy.  Perhaps the odd Tuesday lunch but typically the place was always pretty consistent. The key lime pie for dessert was a great touch and even though the portion small, it was rich and flavorful.  Probably one of the better meals I have enjoyed in some time, and very reasonable for the investment.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Jeff Gaetjen is something of a local legend among DC Chefs - he has been around, seemingly forever, and is currently listed as "Fishmonger and Executive Chef" of BlackSalt - I'm not sure whether or not he's working the line as Chef de Cuisine; I suspect not, but that's only because that would be an incredibly taxing combination of things to do.

Jul 26, 2017 - "Chef of the Month: Jeff Gaetjen of BlackSalt" by Evan Caplan on georgetowner.com

On Sundays, BlackSalt serves a limited Happy Hour menu at the bar 4-6 PM:

Menu1.JPGMenu2.JPG

Starting with a French 75, with Spring 44 Gin, Lemon, and Sparkling Wine; and a Dark & Stormy, with Dark Rum, House-made Ginger Beer, and Lime (both $8), we got a dozen raw Happy Hour Oysters (War Shores from Chesapeake, VA, at a gently priced $18) - medium-sized, with light-to-moderate brine, these were exceptions to my general rule that I don't particularly care for Virginia oysters, as I often find them too large and too briny. A picture of the twelve soldiers, pre-battle, and post-mortem:

Oysters1.JPGOysters2.JPG

Next in line were two glasses of Kir Royàle ($7, NB - Kir is a masculine noun), listed under the "Champagne Cocktails" section, these were made with Crème de Cassis and - instead of Champagne, which someone reasonable might expect - with Cricova Crisecco Spumant Brut, a sparkling wine from Moldova. I'm not saying one should expect real Champagne at this price, but one *should* expect them not to advertise it as such - the cocktails were perfectly drinkable nonetheless.

With these, a couple of Texas Shrimp Cocktails ($7). I'm not sure if these shrimp were from Texas, or if they were supposed to be "Texas-sized," but they weren't *that* large, nor were they great shrimp, but they were adequate shrimp. At $2.33 apiece, they were a reasonable value, and not at all bad.

Shrimp.JPG

To finish, an order of Oysters Rockefeller ($9), which, in these parts, can be dangerously salty, but not at BlackSalt; these were three lovingly prepared oysters, with House-Smoked Bacon (one tiny cube of lardon), Vermouth cream, spinach, and Parmesan. A fine way to finish a perfectly fine, happy-hour, bar meal on a crazy Sunday in Washington, DC.

Rockefeller.JPG

  • Like 6
Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, susan said:

Great review, thanks, Don. One of my favorite places for top notch seafood. I don't even know of another restaurant in the area that can match Black Salt for high quality, fresh seafood, do you?

Susan, I've been thinking about this, and right now, I'm not sure there's anything better or more reliable at the price-point than BlackSalt for seafood.

Fiola Mare and Del Mar are certainly better restaurants, but also a *lot* more expensive - there are other ultra-luxe restaurants in town that offer better seafood, but in terms of "pure seafood restaurants for the money," I don't know of any.

Five years ago, Eat the Rich had dethroned, not only BlackSalt, but *everything*, as "Best Seafood in DC," without any serious competition, but after Julien Shapiro left, that went to hell very quickly. I mean, click on that link for a reminder of just how great this restaurant was.

Also, it's very difficult to ignore the fine seafood counter in front of BlackSalt - yesterday, they were featuring wild-caught King Salmon for something like $64.99 a pound! (We opted for Opah for $26.99 a pound).

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, DonRocks said:

Susan, I've been thinking about this, and right now, I'm not sure there's anything better or more reliable at the price-point than BlackSalt for seafood.

Fiola Mare and Del Mar are certainly better restaurants, but also a *lot* more expensive - there are other ultra-luxe restaurants in town that offer better seafood, but in terms of "pure seafood restaurants for the money," I don't know of any.

Five years ago, Eat the Rich had dethroned, not only BlackSalt, but *everything*, as "Best Seafood in DC," without any serious competition, but after Julien Shapiro left, that went to hell very quickly. I mean, click on that link for a reminder of just how great this restaurant was.

Also, it's very difficult to ignore the fine seafood counter in front of BlackSalt - yesterday, they were featuring wild-caught King Salmon for something like $64.99 a pound! (We opted for Opah for $26.99 a pound).

Don, one of the most luxurious and satisfying appetizers at Black Salt that you should try is the butter poached lobster agnolotti with spring peas and morels. 

The seafood counter is amazing, love that you can choose seafood not on the menu for that day but they will prepare it for you, especially love the black bass they get in.  Stopped by the other night and picked up two crab cakes to take home and broil. Excellent.

My treat for special occasions at Fiola Mare is the  pasta vongole and the dover sole. 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, susan said:

The seafood counter is amazing, love that you can choose seafood not on the menu for that day but they will prepare it for you, especially love the black bass they get in.  

Really? That's news you can use. 

Are these whole black bass?

Link to post
Share on other sites

The black bass is filleted, and they will grill it for you and you can just tell them that you want 1/2 a pound piece and that you will be having it for dinner and then you can substitute it for one of the fish on the menu that night. Just tell your waiter that you ordered the fish from the market and they will have it sent to the kitchen.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, DonRocks said:

Also, it's very difficult to ignore the fine seafood counter in front of BlackSalt - yesterday, they were featuring wild-caught King Salmon for something like $64.99 a pound! (We opted for Opah for $26.99 a pound).

$64.99 a pound for wild caught king salmon?!?

I find that very, very simple to ignore. :)

Link to post
Share on other sites
45 minutes ago, mtureck said:

$64.99 a pound for wild caught king salmon?!?

I find that very, very simple to ignore. :)

To be honest, I'm going from memory on the $64.99 price, but I distinctly remember thinking I'd never seen a fish priced that high before , and it scared me. Still, to give them the benefit of any doubt, let's say $54.99.

However, the joke was on me for buying the Opah at $24.99: I thought I walked away with a relative bargain, getting about .75 pounds for under $20 ... but the darned fish was accidentally left in the car all evening long - by the time it was retrieved, about eight-hours later, not only did it smell, but it had completely changed color. Discarded!

Link to post
Share on other sites

We went to pick up some sushi-grade fish at BlackSalt Market yesterday (their market is very well-stocked, and I don't know of any better fish markets in the Washington, DC area). Anyway, after *four months* of not having dined at a restaurant, we finally had dinner at BlackSalt as well.

At 6 PM, the restaurant was empty, save for about a dozen employees, working the market, kitchen, bar, and floor. In fact, we were the only diners between 6-7 PM, but when we left, another couple was being seated. We felt perfectly safe dining here.

Here was last night's menu (there was also a limited selection of raw oysters):

BlacksaltMenu.jpg

We were also presented with a limited selection of wines by the glass (the sommelier came over and told us they had a bigger one, but I knew I wanted the Chinon Rosé). This Dozon Chinon is a vin saigné, and was $13 by the glass, but we were charged a remarkably low $35 by the bottle. Incidentally, the sommelier said that all of their wines are available for off-site purchase at 30%-off the menu price (as long as they sell you "some" food) - I'm not sure if I got the menu price or the take-home price.

BlackSaltWine.jpg

The only problematic dish of the evening was a bowl of Chilled Beet Gazpacho ($13) with Crème Frâiche and Cucumber Relish. The soup looked lovely, but it was brutally acidic, and tasted like the beets (or maybe just the cucumbers) had been pickled; other than the acidity (which was a fatal flaw), it would have been a perfectly fine summer soup.

BlackSaltBeetGazpacho.jpg

My Oysters Rockefeller ($15) were prepared correctly, and were a solid version of this classic dish. DIShGo had only tried this one other time, at a touristy restaurant in Manhattan Beach, CA, and she said these were night-and-day better than what she had previously. These weren't perfect, but they were better than you'll usually find, even at an upscale restaurant. It was really a pleasure to have a complex dish such as this in the confines of BlackSalt.

BlackSaltOystersRockefeller.jpg

Lobster and Avocado Salad ($25) with Citrus Vinaigrette, Local Grilled Squash, Cucumber, Basil, and Scallions made for a good one-two punch of summer dining along with the Gazpacho. DIShGo said there was a lot of lobster in it, and what I had tasted really good - she said she enjoyed it more than mine (but I beg to differ). :)

BlackSalt.jpg

My Butter Poached Lobster ($28) with Sweet Corn and Fava Bean Succotash, Bacon (really, Guanciale), Corn Flan, and Sherry Lobster Butter was the type of dish you just don't make at home (or, at least, I don't), and I savored each bite slowly with the wine. The lobster was small, but it was still a lobster, and the Corn Flan stole the show, and was the "item of the evening."

IMG_5972.jpg

While driving home afterwards (we took 1/3 of the bottle of wine home), we were wondering why on earth so many people were clustering around bridges, etc., when it was only 7PM, the sun was still out, and the fireworks wouldn't begin for a couple of hours. But not long after we pulled into the driveway, these flew directly overhead:

BlueAngels.PNGB2Stealth.PNG

I hope everyone had a nice 4th of July.

Cheers,
Rocks

  • Like 7
Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice dinner! I'd love some Oysters Rockefeller right about now! Sounds like a good 4th!

Blue Angels or some sort of jets flew in formation over our house in Colesville and we heard they were flying over Suburban Hospital and NIH in tribute to our medical people! I hope so!

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/5/2020 at 4:10 PM, DonRocks said:

We went to pick up some sushi-grade fish at BlackSalt Market yesterday (their market is very well-stocked, and I don't know of any better fish markets in the Washington, DC area). Anyway, after *four months* of not having dined at a restaurant, we finally had dinner at BlackSalt as well.

Here's the fruits of our shopping labor.

BlackSalt Seafood Market (DonRocks)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Looking at menu and prices it appears prices have definitely increased. Crab cakes - $51, Addie's Mussels - $20 (pretty sue I had these just before the pandemic and I think they were $14, less at happy hour).

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, jandres374 said:

Looking at menu and prices it appears prices have definitely increased. Crab cakes - $51, Addie's Mussels - $20 (pretty sue I had these just before the pandemic and I think they were $14, less at happy hour).

I did a double-take when I saw the $51 crab cakes - my guess is that restaurants are forced to raise prices to compensate for decreased business.

I just got back from BlackSalt market, and will report on this week's bounty later on.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/10/2020 at 7:37 PM, naxos said:

Waiting to hear.. going tomorrow!

Be careful - that beautiful toro wasn't the same quality this time around (it was great, but the texture was all wrong), despite its appearance. I'll explain later.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/29/2020 at 5:42 PM, pras said:

Bethesda Magazine is reporting that the raw bar at Black's will be replaced with a fish market a la Black Salt.  The article also mentions a Black Salt pop up, for a few days while Black Salt is closed for renovations.

I took these pictures of BlackSalt last Tuesday, Nov 3rd. I don't know all that much about renovations, but If they're really going to be back open tomorrow, Nov 10th (like the sign in the picture says), I'll be suitably impressed.

IMG_6889.jpgIMG_6890.jpgIMG_6891.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, DonRocks said:

I took these pictures of BlackSalt last Tuesday, Nov 3rd. I don't know all that much about renovations, but If they're really going to be back open tomorrow, Nov 10th (like the sign in the picture says), I'll be suitably impressed.

IMG_6889.jpgIMG_6890.jpgIMG_6891.jpg

If they are back, I want the name of their contractor.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/9/2020 at 1:52 PM, DonRocks said:

I took these pictures of BlackSalt last Tuesday, Nov 3rd. I don't know all that much about renovations, but If they're really going to be back open tomorrow, Nov 10th (like the sign in the picture says), I'll be suitably impressed.

IMG_6889.jpgIMG_6890.jpgIMG_6891.jpg

On 11/10/2020 at 8:28 AM, pras said:

If they are back, I want the name of their contractor.

Well, you should ask them the name of their contractor because I just got back from there, and they've been open since Nov 11th!

That's pretty remarkable.

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, naxos said:

Any updates on the available fish?

The fish counter was well-stocked today. There's a young-ish gentleman who always works behind it, and he has been consistently reliable in terms of which fish are, and aren't, sashimi quality. Today, they had Opah and Ahi Tuna that were marked as sashimi quality; he told me to get the Ahi Tuna and the Skuna Bay Salmon instead. However, after cutting the tuna, he re-examined the salmon, and told me that only the tuna was of sashimi quality. I appreciate this honesty more than he knows.

I'd estimate him to be 30-35, 5'8", medium build, black hair, most likely Latino - I think he might be Jeff Gaetjen's number two. If you see him (and I'm talking to everyone reading), flag him down instead of staring at the fish and wondering what might be particularly good, although he generally approaches the customers and asks them if they need any help.

He also cuts fish extremely well, and if I tell him I'm looking for a fattier cut, he'll invariably come up with one (not all of the fish is on display - he often pulls something from the refrigerator).

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.




×
×
  • Create New...