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The Salt Line, Fresh, Local Seafood at 79 Potomac Avenue, Just South of Nationals Park


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After reading some rave reviews, I went by for brunch (they say it's lunch, but it's only offered on weekends, starting at 11).   The website doesn't actually have a lunch menu, so I wasn't sure what I was getting into.

Unfortunately the lunch menu does not have the uni carbonara.  But they do have most of the classics.

I had the seafood charcuterie, consisting of smoked artic char, potted lobster, whitefish salad, shrimp linguica, and swordfish mortadella.  The first 3 were traditional, and pretty good.  The latter 2 were freaks of nature and not my cup of tea.  I thought both were a bit too fishy, and the firm jello-like texture was weird.

I also had grilled rockfish (or was it monkfish?) with braised kale, some kimchi cucumbers, and scallion pancake.  I thought the scallion pancakes were so so.  It's not Chinese nor Korean, more like American pancakes with scallions.  The fish was cooked nicely.  Altogether the flavor was pretty good.

It's good to have another interesting seafood joint in the city.

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They should knock out the small cottage-style windows and put in floor-to-ceiling glass walls so that the whole inside of the restaurant can get a good view of the water outside. If you're on the water, the windows should give you a view.

They should take some cues from the other more modern full-length windows at other Navy Yard restaurants like in the area of Osteria Morini and the coming District Winery in Yards Park. The Salt Line windows look very dated and out of place in a new modern building.

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I stopped in just after 5 for dinner before the game last night. (Dinner was better than the game <_<.)  I ordered a mix of three types of oysters ($2.50 + $2.75/ea.), some based on the recommendation of the man doing the shucking.  I was sitting at the end of the bar right opposite the shucking station.  He was shucking batches in advance in anticipation of the crowds, which did start to move in during the time I was there.  I imagine they'd get behind pretty quickly without that bit of pre-prep.  

I ended up liking the Nauti Pilgrims (from MA) the most of my selections. I believe they were also the smallest of the oysters I got.  These came with two sauces, one a tomato-based cocktail-type sauce and the other a mignonette that was quite vinegary and peppery. When I used just a little bit, the balance of vinegar and pepper was perfect. A bit too much and I realized how very potent the sauce was.  

Quibble: I would have liked an oyster fork. The oysters were mostly well-shucked. I only got a bit of shell in one of them, but they were not all free enough of their shells to be slurped without an extra effort.  I was most of the way through when it occurred to me that I didn't have a fork. I should have asked for one.

A friend of mine who had been in a couple of days before had loved their roast beef sandwich [BOSTON ROAST BEEF bbq sauce, horseradish cream, american cheese, onion roll] ($16), and I wanted to try it.  So I moved from seafood to beef. I loved the meat and the roll.  It was a bit messy but not too much. My only issue with it was that it didn't need both bbq sauce and horseradish cream.  I think I would have preferred just the horseradish. There was nothing wrong with the bbq sauce (I could see offering the sandwich with that as an option), but it seemed to be going in a different, somewhat incompatible, direction than the horseradish, flavor wise.

I didn't ask about happy hour beer specials (I think that was Yuengling) and ordered a couple of draught DC Brau Pils ($6/ea.), which worked well with both the oysters and roast beef sandwich.

It was but a short walk across the street to the first base gate. If I arrive that early for a game again, I'd happily stop back in for more.

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On 7/2/2017 at 2:04 PM, Ericandblueboy said:

After reading some rave reviews, I went by for brunch (they say it's lunch, but it's only offered on weekends, starting at 11).   The website doesn't actually have a lunch menu, so I wasn't sure what I was getting into.

Unfortunately the lunch menu does not have the uni carbonara.  But they do have most of the classics.

I had the seafood charcuterie, consisting of smoked artic char, potted lobster, whitefish salad, shrimp linguica, and swordfish mortadella.  The first 3 were traditional, and pretty good.  The latter 2 were freaks of nature and not my cup of tea.  I thought both were a bit too fishy, and the firm jello-like texture was weird.

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Is uni carbonara, carbonara? ^_^

Seriously, your picture of the Seafood Charcuterie has six items, and you only list five - it appears that the chunks of salmon/ginger/grapefruit-looking things were omitted, but I'm not sure: Do you remember what they were? Depending on the contents of the lobster pot, $27 may be reasonable for this platter - not inexpensive, but perhaps reasonable.

What's with the shades?

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59 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

Seriously, your picture of the Seafood Charcuterie has six items, and you only list five - it appears that the chunks of salmon/ginger/grapefruit-looking things were omitted, but I'm not sure: Do you remember what they were? Depending on the contents of the lobster pot, $27 may be reasonable for this platter - not inexpensive, but perhaps reasonable.

What's with the shades?

I think that other thing is some sort of palate cleanser.  The shades are in the colors of FC Barcelona.

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Went and tried some of their classics, such as fried clam bellies, coddies, and Waterman's platter (fried scallops, fish, oysters and sides).  I thought the coddies were good but the fried clams were better at the defunct Freddie's Lobsters and Clams.  As for the platter, I don't know the fish used but it's a thin white filet with a hint of fishiness.  The breading was thin, crispy, and generally bland.  I also had some razor clam ceviche which was okay (not too sure that I've ever had great razor clam).  I don't know if I'll rush back a 3rd time (in this town, that could mean never).

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Had dinner at Salt Line recently and unfortunately left underwhelmed. It's an attractive restaurant with friendly staff, but there were flaws with every dish. I started with the rockfish tartare with pickled mustard seed, fried capers and 'crisps'. The potato chips tasted like they came out of a bag. The tartare was good but there wasn't much of it. It was a standard disc of tartare, maybe 4 inches in diameter, but it was only about 1/4 inch deep. The bartender recommended their New England Smash Burger. They're clearly modeling it after Shake Shack which is fine, except it wasn't as good as Shake Shack. If you can't beat the original, it might be better to go in a different direction.

My friend let me try the fried fish from their Waterman's Platter. It was well fried, but there wasn't nearly enough salt so it tasted bland. The onion rings we ordered never showed up (though didn't appear on the bill either). 

The other thing that through me off was watching their shucker shuck oysters throughout the evening then place them in plastic bins, cover the top with plastic wrap and place the bins in a refrigerator below the bar. To be fair, I also watched him shuck some oysters fresh for seafood towers and other orders. I just couldn't help but wonder where those other shucked oysters were intended to go.

I'm a fan of Hank's, and there was nothing here that was better other than the view. I don't envision going back.

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12 minutes ago, JimCo said:

My friend let me try the fried fish from their Waterman's Platter. It was well fried, but there wasn't nearly enough salt so it tasted bland. The onion rings we ordered never showed up (though didn't appear on the bill either). 

Weren't there O-rings on the Waterman's Platter?  I remember having fried and rings on my platter, and the O-rings were pretty good, reminds me of the rings at the Varsity in Atlanta.

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5 hours ago, JimCo said:

The other thing that through me off was watching their shucker shuck oysters throughout the evening then place them in plastic bins, cover the top with plastic wrap and place the bins in a refrigerator below the bar. To be fair, I also watched him shuck some oysters fresh for seafood towers and other orders. I just couldn't help but wonder where those other shucked oysters were intended to go.

I would guess it would be for the fried oysters on the Waterman's platter

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In Tom Seitsema's 's Washington Post review the caption to this photo reads: "Server Khalid Larkin holds a plate of crispy skin rockfish entree on the bright patio at the Salt Line, with the home plate entrance to Nationals Park in the background. (Dixie D. Vereen/For The Washington Post) "

In case you're exiting the Park to reach the restaurant: that's First Base Gate, not home plate entrance, in the background.

We went once before a game and found a breezy, nautically-based interior design and earnest staff. Their hours haven't been conducive to a relaxed meal before most games or between the recent Sunday double-headers. Their website states: "We open early, 90 minutes before every Nationals home day game" - sadly, not true.

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Server Khalid Larkin holds a plate of crispy skin rockfish entree on the bright patio at the Salt Line, with the home plate entrance to Nationals Park in the background. (Dixie D. Vereen/For The Washington Post)

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We arrived about an hour and a quarter before the game today, ordered food right away, and wondered if we would make first pitch. (In the end, we did.) We both got lobster rolls and fries. I got mine buttered and my friend got hers dressed, which she had eaten before and enjoyed.  I'm not quite sure what else goes into "dressed" besides mayo.  The lobster meat was sweet and delicious. The roll is top split and toasted and very good. The fries are fantastic and a generous portion. Between the two of us, we've been there five times and have found the service slow. (Two of her visits were not on game days.)

With a lobster roll, fries, and one beverage a piece, we each paid $44 with tax and tip.  That's kind of a lot for brunch/lunch, though okay when compared with how much things cost at the ballpark.

 

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My friend (same as above) and I stopped in for dinner before the game last night. Neither of us had been there in a while. It was good but pricey. The service this time was prompt and efficient. Our server was very good. They were busy at the host stand pre-game but managed everything well.

I didn't feel like having seafood and didn't quite know what I wanted, except fries. I finally decided on the beef sandwich again. This time I asked for the sauces on the side. I enjoyed it more this way than when it came pre-sauced. I used very little of the bbq sauce. The sandwich is served au jus and with melted cheese, so it's plenty moist without any added sauces. I used a fair amount of the horseradish sauce, though, mostly dipping the sandwich into it.

My friend got her lobster roll buttered this time, plus one glass of wine, and our bill was almost $70 before tip. (I had a $7 draft beer.) Maybe the elapsed time since our last visit(s) made it seem more expensive than before, but, yikes.

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I went back for brunch a week ago.  Started with some oysters - they have a nice selection, served of mignonette and a tobascoey cocktail sauce.  Then I had a cup of not particularly creamy chowder, which tasted fine.  Then I got the stuffies and fried clam bellies.  The stuffed clams are supposed to be topneck but they're cherry stone sized.  The fried clam bellies were tiny in portion, bland and a little greasy.  Not impressed at all.

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I ate at Salt Line with a friend (same one referenced above) before the Tuesday Nats' game. It was only my second pandemic dining experience and it was really positive. We sat outside on a brutally hot day, but the fans they had set up and the air flow were great. Not unpleasant at all. Our server was wonderful. Everything came out in a timely fashion. A winner on all points.

Friend had her favorite lobster roll and I had the smash burger (for the first time). I was afraid it was going to be too heavy given the heat and it kind of was, but it was delicious. The fries that came with it were excellent, and we both enjoyed DC Brau Pils on tap. The beer itself is one I like in general, but one of the things I have missed the most during the pandemic is draft beer. This was wonderfully bubbly in its pilsner glass and just perfect.

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We ate here recently before a game on my husband's birthday. I got some more raw bar food (like I did at Old Ebbitt but only half as many clams). He got the sea bass entree and thought it was good but maybe underseasoned. We split fries and the crab dip. I didn't like the  crackers for the crab dip but he didn't seem to mind them. They seemed like a puffy rice cracker, but I don't know what they actually were. 

Husband got some kind of rocky road mousse dessert that was okay. I didn't mention the birthday on the reservation or we probably would have gotten the cupcake with a candle like that which came out to another table.

Service was good. Food was good. Excellent ventilation outside. Nice view. Continues to be a good choice in that area.

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I've been to the Navy Yard spot quite a bit lately, largely because of the welcoming and expansive outdoor space. I've been quite pleased with the visits; my wallet less so.

Most recently for a friend's day-after-birthday celebration, a few of us enjoyed the Friday "happy afternoon" (12-4; half-price MD and VA oysters; drink specials) at one of the outdoor lounge tables. Service was wonderful. Our server was completely unperturbed by how long we took up a prime table and just kept bringing us what we wanted.

The seafood was wonderful as always, and their fries are probably my favorite in the city. One thing I'd wanted to order and had not previously was the kampachi crudo (aguachile, avocado crema, pickled red onion, green Thai chilies, micro cilantro). It was fantastic. We split it but I somehow ended up with most of the cubed fish from the small ($17) portion, and I am going to splurge on this again. We talked about dragging some of the Parker House rolls through the spicy avocado crema but I don't know that any of us ended up doing that. The Parker House Rolls (served with housemade butter; $5) were a request of the birthday girl and we let her eat half of them🙃.

As I said to my friends, if I'm paying a premium to have an amazing (and calming -- I find it so calming) water view, I want the food to be as good as it here.

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