Golden Spoons Review: Saltwater Grill

| 24/08/2018

Saltwater Grill, CNS Local Life(CNS Foodie): I am always eager to try a new restaurant that emerges on the scene, but prefer to wait a while to let them work out the bugs (hopefully, not literally!). While Saltwater Grill has been open for just a few months, it is the latest addition to a chain of restaurants, each with its own identity and each with a focus on every detail, from design to décor to function. The owners have clearly been around the block and each opening appears seamless and calculated, pairing beautiful interior design with unique menus and attentive service.

Unlike every other restaurant that has previously occupied this space in Galleria Plaza, Saltwater Grill has rerouted its entry point for arriving patrons to the farthest left side of the establishment, redirecting you through a well-appointed outdoor patio with casual seating and bar area and mitigating the interruption of traffic flow through the middle of the restaurant. Clever.

We arrived at the beginning of dinner service and were greeted by each member of staff, who offered smiles and seemed genuinely happy to welcome us in.  We were given free choice over seating and gravitated to the farthest side, where a bank of booths lined the wall.

Saltwater GrillStepping into the restaurant, you immediately notice the attention to detail in the décor. Natural tones with splashes of muted colours render a serene atmosphere that immediately calms and welcomes you. Browns, tans and whites feature mostly, in a variety of shades, with bursts of natural reds, oranges and yellows from shelves lined with jars of pickled fruits and vegetables. We weren’t clear on whether these were for sale or decoration.

Thoughtful touches of creativity are evident in the choices of lighting, the interesting pattern of window treatments and the occasional piece of pop culture artwork that adorn the walls. We found ourselves mesmerized by it all, long after the menus had been placed in front of us, as yet unopened.

So. The food.

The menu has a bit of a multicultural influence, which was surprising, as the name suggests the cuisine would offer more of a backwater seafood flavour. With options from categories like ‘land’, ‘sea’ and ‘pasta’, you have standard protein items that you would expect, but served with biryani or piri piri or yakisoba noodles, and Asian soy dressing seemed to accompany a range of appetizers and mains as well.

Our server found us quite quickly, given that we were the only ones there and likely the first customers on her shift. She took our drink orders: the Seven Mile ($9), a tower of Smirnoff vodka, Chambord and dekuyper melon, mixed into a bright blend of cranberry and pineapple. Tart and refreshing! The Havana Passion ($11) came in a dainty martini glass. This concoction of Havana Club 7-year-old rum and orange flavoured Triple sec stole the show with its sweet and heavenly mango puree. A few gulps and it was gone, a second round on its way before we had time to think about it!

I appreciate a wide selection of starters from which to choose – not limiting you to either a soup or salad, but offering a variety of meat or veggie options in creative ways that tempt your palate. We ultimately settled on the Oven Roasted Mushrooms ($9). A generous serving of chunky mushrooms infused with garlic and thyme topped three pieces of toasted bread layered with thick slices of mozzarella cheese. The garlic and thyme perfectly tempered the earthiness of the mushrooms and the bread and cheese delivered it on a tasty and crunchy vehicle.

My dinner companion went with the Tartare Duo ($13), which featured a mound of diced salmon, tuna and avocado on a bed of seaweed salad, with a drizzle of Asian soy dressing. Large cubes of raw, fresh fish with a sweet and salty Asian spin was a welcome change to the traditional versions you often find on the menu.

For the main course, I surveyed the menu and had no choice but to select the namesake dish: The Saltwater Grill ($45). A seafood-laden bowl of tomato saffron broth filled with ample portions of shrimp, mussels, scallops, calamari and two small lobster tails with a side of grilled bread for dipping. The dish was adequate, though I struggled get the lobster out of the shell as we battled for a bit within its red bath, trying to pry the meat out without splashing unforgiving tomato broth all over myself.

Kitchens usually do the work for you, leaving it attached at the tip of the tail merely for presentation. I lost a few pieces that stubbornly refused to release as I was not inclined to drop my fork and apply fingers and teeth to get the job done.  A lovely silver discard bowl was provided for the tail and mussel shells, which I filled before finally diving in – meanwhile my companion was halfway through her meal already.

The broth was tasty and the seafood cooked appropriately, but I found nothing amazing about it. I enjoyed it, but didn’t experience euphoria or anything that would bring me back to this dish again. I considered it a signature dish, given its name, so expected it to be unique, incredible and original …but sadly it did not live up to my expectations. Nevertheless, I ate every morsel, but left the broth as no spoon was provided and I was not about to ‘tip bowl to head’ as this just didn’t seem like the type of place that would condone that type of behaviour.

My date opted for the heart healthy thyme seasoned Grilled Salmon ($22) served over couscous, with sautéed zucchini and peppers, callaloo and lemon buerre blanc. I was impressed with the size of the salmon, and the bite that she allowed me to have was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. The meat was cooked to perfection and the pairing of lightly seasoned vegetables and mildly flavoured couscous made for a satisfying meal.

Quite full, we thought we could go no further …until the dessert menu arrived. It took mere seconds to decide on the Key Lime Pie ($8) with its graham cracker crust, local lime and whipped cream and the Death by Chocolate ($8), a flourless chocolate cake topped with raspberry coulis and a single scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Saltwater GrillPlates in front of us, we jumped in spoons first, each tackling a dish with high expectations. My first bite was the warm, soft and gooey chocolate cake, which presented more like a brownie as the lack of flour gave it no rise, and cold vanilla ice cream with a dab of the raspberry.  Eyes closed, savouring the bite – not too sweet, varying textures, temperatures and flavors. I enjoyed it.

My next bite was the key lime, my friend’s choice. Her first bite was met with mmm’s and ohhh’s and vigorous head gestures, wide and then fluttering eyes. She appeared to approve. She was not wrong. It was divine. Sweet overload, but not sugar coma shock. Delicate nuances of lime, tamed by the graham crackers and whipped cream. Light, creamy, delicious.

And with that, it was done. We retreated to the support of the booth’s backrest, happily gorged and relieved that there were no more courses to try. Overall, it was a lovely evening. The atmosphere was relaxing, shifting as the sun went down and the natural light faded to allow the softly lit restaurant to settle into its own personality.

With the right seating choice at the back, it could serve a romantic couple well or play sophisticate host to a group of friends at one of the long tables in the middle. The outdoor area is suitable to small work socials or private parties and the indoor bar is far enough removed from the main eating area so as not to disturb diners with its louder conversation and liveliness.

The servers are pleasant and attentive and do not only cater to their assigned tables, checking on you throughout the meal and removing empty dishes as they pass by.

A great addition to the eating scene – I would definitely go back.

Total cost for dinner for two was CI$162.15, which included 15% gratuity.

Saltwater Grill website

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Comments (3)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The specialty drink I ordered was so watered down and diluted with juice (it was pre-mixed) that I felt value for money was non-existent. Plain ol’ (diluted, he shook it like he was a Cuban mariachi) fruit punch… I won’t be back.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Sunday brunch very disappointing. Minimal choices. No value for money. Won’t be going back.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Great review, very detailed and interesting!