If you follow the DC food industry in any capacity, you have probably already heard about the much anticipated opening of Chef Kyle Bailey’s new restaurant, The Salt Line. With partner Jeremy Carman, the team has created a coastal getaway inside the beltway. Gathering influences from a childhood in Massachusetts, Carmen worked with Bailey on a menu that melds New England-style beach eats with the Eastern Shore classics. The bright decor with antique nautical items instantly makes you feel like you’re on vacation.
One incredible thing about The Salt Line, which is located directly across from National’s Park at Dock 79, is that it creates an experience for every type of diner. You can dine privately at one of the upholstered booths, while ordering seafood towers and uni carbonara; you can sit at the bar and slurp down oyster shooters and lobster rolls; or you can hang out outside at their beach bar with boozy slushies, buckets of beer, and roast beef sandwiches. Whatever atmosphere you’re looking for, you can find it at The Salt Line.
Here’s a little preview of some of the dishes you should 100% get:
The Oyster Shooter
Locally sourced oysters are served atop a shot of Yuzu sake mixed with Port City Brewing’s Optimal Wit. The oyster is dressed with Fresno chile, scallion, ponzu and other Asian flavors that makes your eyes pop and your brain say WOW, give me 17 more. You have to get this, don’t question it – just do it.
Baked top neck clams with smoked liguica, lemon, and bread crumb. Although these clams are breaded with a sausage mixture, the clam does not get lost in the mix. These super meaty clams are tender and delicious and you get three of these bad boys for only $8!
With your choice of dressed or buttered, there is no lack of lobster in this roll, ya’ll. The split top bun (made in-house and perfected with the help of Chef Bailey’s superstar pastry chef wife Tiffany MacIasaac) is packed with whole knuckles of lobster, a hint of mayo, fresh herbs and just a huge helping of happiness. Don’t overlook the bread either – this bun is lightly toasted so that integrity of the soft and chewy dough is not lost, and you don’t cut the roof of your mouth with an overly toasted bun.
Nashville Hot Soft Shell
Let’s get serious for a minute – this take on the southern chicken classic is absolutely genius and exquisitely executed. Griddled white bread is cut thick enough to support the crispy soft shell, served with pickled green tomatoes and a black garlic honey. It’s so good I have no shame in sharing that I took two of these to devour for myself. The soft shell crab was not heavily breaded, so the sweet and tender flavor could still be found. However, there was no lack of heat, which was cut perfectly with the pickled tomatoes and black garlic honey. As Chef Bailey said, “this dish is so hot right now.”
So no lie, I just got back from Noma Mexico, where I thought I had the best crudo in the world – and then I had this. I am SERIOUSLY impressed with the subtle nuances of flavor that bring this dish together. Thinly sliced scallops are dressed with gooseberry chutney, tarragon labneh and pinenuts. It’s sweet, sour, rich, nutty, bright, acidic and just straight up bad ass cooking. Also, can we talk about the enamel dishware used here? It’s sure to be the next Fiesta Ware.
Boston Roast Beef Sandwich
I learned at this preview that what I thought was an OCMD classic, actually originated in Boston. I grew up vacationing in Ocean City, MD, where my dad would golf every morning and call me to ask if I wanted a roast beef sandwich from Anthony’s Carryout – the most famous OCMD sandwich shop in my mind. I always said yes and my roast beef sandwich with American cheese, horsey sauce on an onion roll would be delivered by dad to my beach chair on the beach. There’s just something about a hot roast beef sandwich on the beach that makes me weep with nostalgia. So naturally, the version at The Salt Line had be holding back tears. The thinly shaved roast beef with American cheese, a touch of BBQ sauce and just a hint of horseradish cream is stuffed between two halves of a butter onion roll and life is good. I especially love the ratio of horseradish cream on this sandwich – there’s enough to know it’s there, but not so much that it’s all you can taste. I didn’t want this bite to end.
Grilled Monkfish with Sausage Stuffed Squash Blossom
I’m always somewhat skeptical of a grilled fish, especially if the word “blackened” precedes it. To me it ends up being a super dry, heavily spiced piece of fish leather. Not here, ya’ll. The grilled monkfish is just kissed on each side by a hot grill seasoned with an expert’s touch and served with green romesco, cous cous, pepper sofrito and the main event – a merguez stuffed squash blossom that is lightly fried tempura style. With the acidity from the romesco, the fattiness of the fish and the salty crunch from the blossom – it’s a brilliantly balanced dish.
Don’t forget to try one of the boozy slushies – like this cobbler slushy – or indulge with one of their delightful bottles of wine, or keep it casual with one of the many beers on tap! The beverage director Donato Alvarez knows what’s up.
I’m so excited for the doors to open at The Salt Line. I can tell just how much passion and love has gone into this project, and I am just so thrilled to see good people succeeding in what they love most. So, if you’re looking to catch a Nat’s game this summer – make sure you go early or stay late to check out The Salt Line while you’re there!