Salty’s – Southern poutine
All you have to do is look out over the river to see how cold it is outside. Yet the light and ambiance of Salty’s upstairs fireplace also provides warmth, something there’s plenty of here, from the staff to service.
We return to the still banks of the beautiful Columbia River to sample Salty’s new happy hour menu and live music. Simply put, Salty’s is first-class.
Salty’s sits on a treasured spot. As the only restaurant on the Columbia River, you simply can’t sit down for a world class view like this anywhere on Marine Drive. Being able to sit at a table overlooking the Columbia; watching the sky turn colors as the sun sets on another glorious day in the Pacific Northwest, is incomparable.
Yet, the location makes only the foundation. As always, the food stands on its own.
Salty’s is best known for their prodigious brunch. A bacchanalian feast if there ever was one, this exuberant Sunday brunch offers up everything from the decadence of a fondue fountain to the ever-present *crack* as at least one person at every table digs into their crab legs.
There are few places left in Portland where you can feast on not just a world-class brunch buffet, but unlimited crab legs, for a price that won’t burn a hole in your bank account.
Dinner at Salty’s is another story. Expect to pay for it. But do not despair. You certainly get what you pay for at Salty’s.
Out of the 62 restaurant profiles we’ve done in the past two years, the dessert we experienced one evening during a dinner at Salty’s remains at or near the top of our sweet treat chart.
A cast-iron skillet arrived set atop a bed of pine needles on a plate. House-made graham cracker crust served as the foundation on the bottom of the skillet. Atop that was a dark chocolate rectangle and a huge bourbon-infused house-made marshmallow.
After sitting it down on the table, the waiter pulled out a torch and melted the marshmallow and chocolate down onto the graham cracker. Before he walked away he slightly singed the pine needles, just for effect, of course. The smell of a campfire filled the air around the table and all was complete.
So, with such a tough brunch and dinner act to follow, what did Salty’s have on offer for their happy hour menu? Considering we’ve covered Salty’s before, it was appropriate to run the full gamut of what they have to offer.
Starting out the evening on an appropriate note were the libations, an area where Salty’s never disappoints. It’s 5:00pm on a Sunday, so we start the night with a pomegranate martini with Grey Goose vodka, Pama pomegranate liqueur and cranberry juice. An orange rind tops the rim providing a lovely aromatic accompaniment with each sip.
As the evening progresses, we try to pair each drink with each dish. At another point a Moscow Mule carries our burdens by the weight of Ketel One vodka, almond syrup, Cock & Bull Ginger Beer, fresh mint and a squirt of lime.
While the drinks are certainly worth the price of admission, Salty’s holds true to their pedigree by serving up a wonderful array of low-priced, but still high-quality fare.
Since we already have pomegranate on the palate, why not start with the pomegranate apple salad? Greens, honey, marscapone, prosciuotto, and candied hazelnuts combine with granny smith slices and pomegranate for an exquisite bite, every time.
With the lighter fare behind us, it’s time to move on to something heavier. The Monterrey Bay calamari is succulent and wrapped in breading both light and flavorful.
One of the stars of the show arrives in the form of fried Brussel sprouts with bonito flake, pickled ginger and sliced carrot. The pickled ginger really shines in this one. Consider it now a part of our own fried Brussel sprout recipe.
The final two dishes come in rapid succession. The first sits at the top of this evening’s selection. The Kim Chee soup, composed of house-made kimchi, prawns, pork belly and rice noodles is simply delicious on all counts. The prawns are plump and juicy, the pork belly an unexpected but welcome surprise, and an amazing broth. The flavor is simply to die for. We kid you not, we’d drink it.
Although there’s no room left, the southern poutine arrives. More plump shrimp, house-fries, mushrooms, raw onion and Mama’s Lil’ Peppers are all drowned in house-made gumbo sauce. It’s hearty and fulfilling, yet still the door to our stomach must remain open for one last entrant: Dessert.
For happy hour, Salty’s prepares a mini version of their world-famous white chocolate mousse cake with raspberry coulis. You simply can’t get enough of this cake. It’s moist, yet not overly sweet or rich. There’s an understated decadence to it, dialed down into a smaller package. Despite the happy hour size, I don’t think anyone’s complaining.
Want to learn more about Salty’s happy hour in person? Join them Monday through Friday from 3:00pm to 6:00pm, Saturday from 4:00pm to 6:00pm and Sunday from 4:30pm to 6:00pm.
On Friday from 8:00pm to close, join them with live jazz band The Mel Brown Trio.
Salty’s on the Columbia is located at 3839 NE Marine Drive in Portland, Oregon. For more information visit their website at www.saltys.com or give them a call at (503) 288-4444.
William Bessette – PortlandMetroLive.com Contributor
William Bessette is a journalist and freelance writer who has been covering politics, entertainment, culture and travel for over thirteen years. When he’s not profiling Portland-area restaurants and residents, you can find him reporting on national and international travel and eco-tourism through his travel brand, Floppy Hat Adventures.