Salt & Cleaver
Last week Michael and I gave Salt & Cleaver a try. We’ve heard about it before and were excited to see what was in store for us. Even though they just opened their doors recently they are already making a statement!
Neat looking place with brick and metal throughout. There’s a large bar smack dab in the middle of the place, surrounded by tables. There’s also some outside tables right past the garage doors that let some nice light in during the day.
The menu seemed daunting after first glance but right away we knew we were in good hands with Galen and Chef Carlos assuring us that they had things handled. So on we were for our tour of Salt & Cleaver’s best offerings.
They brought out their S & C fries served with S & C sauce (tastes like steak sauce/ketchup), their own smoked brown ale mustard, and spicy horseradish mustard as well. The cucumber fries were light and refreshing and served with some tzatziki. We appreciated the contrast of the fried offering versus the fresh cucumber spears. After all, we didn’t want to get too full right away! Michael also got a ginger beer to help wash everything down. It was sweet on the front, and gingery and spicy on the back. Quite tasty actually.
Our first sausage of the day would be the Chicken Mango Madness. What. A. Great. Way. To. Start. Infused mango in the sausage with mango slices and jicama on top, along with a spicy serrano pepper puree. Easily one of the favorites of the day. I guess there are things in this world that can taste savory, spicy, AND refreshing at the same time. We also were served a German potato salad that had strong mustard notes throughout.
Next up was the Duck. Duck. Pig. This one didn’t have the spicy element to it but that didn’t mean it lacked flavor. The bacon-aze resides on your tongue a few moments after and lingers along with the orange marmalade. The added texture of the crispy duck confit certainly complimented the sausage. Who wouldn’t like duck and bacon in the sausage form?
Our third sausage was one not on the menu. Chef Carlos spoke about a tale where he’d purchase ribeye steak and grind it up to create a sausage. On this night, it did seem like we were on this mystical sausage journey and he was narrating us through the path to sausage bliss. I’ll have to admit that out of the three sausages so far, this wasn’t at the top of our list. But I was speaking to Michael about it after and I wonder how we’d have felt if we flipped the order and had this one first. Perhaps a little experiment to partake in next time. All the elements are there with the feta, the greens from Suzie’s Farms, and the S & C sauce. Were we getting closer to our food wall to not be able to fully enjoy this? Maybe, but alls we knew was the first two blew our minds and anything after would be hard to top.
Last savory item was the lobster sausage salad. I believe Chef Carlos mentioned he used a shrimp base/mousse and folded it into the lobster and leek. He spared us the carbs and made this into a salad for us. Thank you! We were pushing the limits and needed a little break. Another tasty offering that I’d order again. One thing you can tell is that Chef took the time to carefully craft each dish and thought about what components worked well together that he loved to use. I’m glad there is a seafood and vegetarian option for those that choose not to eat as much red meat.
For our SDF readers, Michael and I pushed our limits and accepted two final parting desserts. What a way to go out. You wouldn’t know that Chef Carlos wasn’t a pastry chef. After sampling these desserts you would think that he may have worked in the finest of patisseries or bakeries. But alas, he did not. I guess after much experimentation, patience, and with a critical tongue these two desserts were forged in the depths of the kitchen and put onto the menu. Apparently Galen the owner loves his apple pie and is somewhat of an apple pie enthusiast. Subtitle, he knows his apple pie so Chef Carlos had to do it justice for it to make it on the menu. I hope Galen is happy because Michael and I were. You had sweet, cinnamon, great apple crispiness, homemade vanilla ice cream, and a crust that was flaky but firm. On the other side if you wanted chocolate, like a lot of people do, well sure, order the chocolate peanut butter brownie! Is it hard to mess up a brownie? In my opinion no. But it is hard to make one stand out. Whenever you add another flavor on a brownie my first gut reaction and thought is: I hope they don’t ruin the brownie. Meaning I hope the brownie is balanced well. This one did a fine job of adding just enough peanut butter, but still letting the chocolate shine through. You may think I’m a dessert person after reading this last bit, but I assure you I’m savory through and through. That’s enough about dessert!
I’d highly recommend you give Salt & Cleaver a shot. It’s a fun place to go to grab a drink and get a sausage. Being in Hillcrest, it is very affordable and approachable as well. Chef Carlos will take care of you and I’m sure be as informative and helpful as he was with us. Huge thanks to Galen, Carlos, and Stephen over at Alt for giving us this bold experience. We’ll certainly be back with more mouths to feed soon enough! (For those of your who like to drink beer, they have a full range of craft beers to pair any sausage perfectly.)
Salt & Cleaver
3805 5th Ave
San Diego, CA 92103