1869 Upper Water St., Halifax – (902) 423-6818 – Website
Date of Visit: July 6, 2014
My wife and I visited Salty’s on a hot afternoon some 6 or 8 years ago and had drinks on the outdoor deck. We didn’t as far as I can recall, have anything to eat on that particular occasion and so, on my most recent trip to Halifax, I decided to stop in and see what the food was like…
Ambience and Service
I arrived at Salty’s at around 4:30 pm after walking around the waterfront for a good part of the afternoon. The place is divided into an upstairs ‘Restaurant’ and a downstairs ‘Bar and Grill’ but it was a very sunny day and quite humid so I decided to sit outside. The restaurant is situated on a little wharf and my seat right on the water’s edge allowed for a bit of a cooling breeze and a pleasant view. I didn’t see the upper portion of the interior but I did pass through the downstairs portion several times and it looked fairly pleasant as best as I can recall.
The place was already quite busy when I arrived but there were quite a few staff on duty and they seemed to manage fairly well. Most appeared to be young college students and they were all very friendly and generally efficient from all I could see. Whatever my own waitress might have lacked in experience, she certainly made up for in enthusiasm, but she did, unfortunately, have just a slight unfamiliarity with some aspects of the menu. When I asked what particular sorts of oysters they had on the half-shell that day she smiled brightly and confidently informed me that they were ‘just regular raw oysters’ …
The menu available downstairs and on the patio is fairly simple and generally representative of a mainstream, mid-range seafood house cum pub. If you want to ‘Go Classy’, as Salty’s has it on their website, the upstairs dinner menu is quite a bit more extensive and interesting and I might have given it a try had it been cooler and I had been a little more famished. As it was, I was happy to sit beneath my umbrella with a cool libation and just sample a few selections from the appetizer section of the short menu.
Oysters – The raw oysters available on this occasion were the Beausoleil variety from New Brunswick and were priced at 6 for $19. I don’t generally bother with condiments on raw oysters but these came with a seafood-cocktail type sauce that was of the rather cheap, heavily tomato-dominated sort. The oysters themselves were nice and plump but were probably not at their best given the season. There was a good sharp brininess at the start but it faded quite quickly and the usual sweetness was quite pallid with a rather unusual tuna-sashimi quality at the end. Rating: 3 out of 5.
Crab Cake – I rather think that this single cake was an appetizer version of the ‘Crab Cakes’ available as a main course. Although small, it was really quite good with a lovely fresh sweetness. The crab meat was finely shredded, rather than being chunky, but this is still much better than the finely ground mush you often get and there was very little ‘filler’ other than just a little minced celery. It was supposed to come with a ‘lemon mayo’ but the dressing actually provided seemed to be a chipotle flavored concoction. It was way too much for the delicate crabmeat but it still went nicely with the carrot sticks on the side. Rating: 3 out of 5.
Steamed Mussels – These were served in a fairly standard garlic and white wine butter sauce. This, however, is pretty much my favorite style of steamed mussel preparation and Salty’s version was about as good as anything coming from my own kitchen. In a lot of restaurant renderings, the garlic tends to dominate too heavily but here there was a nice balance with the wine and parsley. The dish was just a little too cold when it reached my table but was very good otherwise. Rating: 4 out of 5.
New Orleans Style Fried Oysters – At $13.95 for just the 4 little oysters I received, this item seemed a little steep but it was clear that the oysters used were fresh and shucked just before frying. The seasoning was very much like a Cajun Alligator appetizer I once had and, while this came off as a bit too much at first bite, once the oyster taste asserted itself it was quite nice. The dipping sauce was, as far as I could tell, the same lemon mayo that was supposed to have come with the crab cake. It was nice enough but really didn’t add much to the oysters and just a simple squeeze of lemon would have been more than enough. Rating: 3 out of 5.
I can’t say that Salty’s ‘wowed’ me by any means but the meal and setting was pleasant enough that I took my parents there for a quick lunch a few days later. If I get the opportunity sometime, I would like to make another visit and see how things are on their slightly more extensive dinner menu. Rating: 3 out of 5.