Salt & Time
Most people know Salt & Time as an old-school style butcher shop in east Austin. What many people don’t know is that Salt & Time also runs a small but amazing restaurant that uses the incredible selection of meats they have in-house and prepares them in some surprising yet delicious ways.
The restaurant seats somewhere between twenty-five to thirty and features four large wooden tables plus a bar area. They offer a nice selection of beers and wines, including a rotating selection of craft beers on tap. They are also the only place you can get Cuvee Black & Blue, a nitrogenated cold brew coffee that is served on tap. Meanwhile, the menu is small and changes seasonally with several daily specials based on what is available. It features some nice familiar things (but with the added Salt & Time touch to them) along with a few dishes that I guarantee you won’t find anywhere else.
My girlfriend and I first visited the shop in August and one of the seasonal dishes was the pig’s heart pastrami. As soon as I heard those words I knew what I was having for dinner. It was served as a deconstructed Reuben with a few large croutons, fried cheese, their house made sauerkraut, and thinly sliced pig’s heart. Maybe noticing my “robust” size the waiter warned me that it wasn’t a large serving but I went ahead anyway. It was simply amazing. The pig’s heart was tender and just barely seasoned. It complimented the sharp vinegar in the sauerkraut and the crunch of the croutons perfectly. Despite the small serving size the flavors knocked me out.
My girlfriend ordered the Butcher’s Burger. Now, I know what you are thinking: “You guys went to this amazing butcher shop for dinner and you got a boring old burger and fries?” Yes we did but boring it was not. The burger had to have been freshly ground with the fat and meat ground separately. It was a rough grind so you got these big pieces of juicy flavorful fat mixed in with the tastiest meat. The fries are fried in beef fat so they are super hot and taste like the french fries from before everything went to canola oil. It is also served with homemade ketchup. Yes, homemade ketchup. Who does that nowadays?
For dessert we tried the Beef Fat Fried Donuts. It features five pieces of tender dough deep fat fried until perfectly golden brown and served on a plate of vanilla cream donut filling. The dough is airy inside with a light crunch on the outside. The vanilla cream adds a lot of sweetness. It is just an indulgent masterpiece and one that can easily be split between two or three. It is that decadent.
The fact that I just wrote this description four months after the meal without having to refer to my notes says how much I loved it.
We started off with Trotter Cakes. Two large fried cakes (roughly hockey puck sized but puffed up on the top) that have a thin shell of crispy breading holding in a gooey concoction of trotter meat and other offal. I can’t say I enjoyed it but my girlfriend absolutely loved it. Her country roots and my city-boy taste buds definitely showed themselves.
For my main dish I ordered the Salumi Board, a selection of house made meats, pickled vegetables, house made mustard and crostini. My board featured lamb liver mousse, a bean mousse, two different types of summer sausage, and tasso along with house pickled cucumbers and sauerkraut and house made mustard. The lamb liver mousse was so silky and flavorful, it had just enough gamy flavor to let you know it was something different and special without being off putting at all. I suppose the bean mousse was meant as a sort of palate cleanser but instead it felt unneeded. The summer sausages were fantastic. One was more peppery and sharp while the other had more fat and just about melted on my tongue. But my absolute favorite was the tasso. Super fatty while still having a great flavor and a nice spice rub on the outside. The pickled cucumbers (not pickled enough for me to call them pickles) and sauerkraut were perfectly on point and crostini were the perfect crisp and crunchy delivery system for the various flavors. The Salt & Time mustard is divine and a must have for mustard lovers out there. My one suggestion is to ask for some extra crostini. I wasn’t aware that they will provide you with more until I was almost done and if I had know that I would have prepared and paced out my bites differently.
My girlfriend got the pasta. It consisted of buttermilk cheese ravioli, in a pecan cream sauce topped with braised lamb. The pasta was perfect and the sauce was delicious but the lamb was the crowning touch. All the flavors meld together to make it a hearty and filling dish.
Salt & Time successfully mixes the familiar with the new, the comfort foods we all know and love with the exotic, and they satisfy the desire for the highest quality meats like no one else can.