The Salthouse is a fairly new restaurant to the Downtown St. John’s area. It opened back in March 2019, my partner and I stumbled across it while looking for a place to have lunch. Come to find out, we had been there a few days after they first opened. We were surprised that we hadn’t heard anything about it opening, the server later told us that the owners wanted to keep it quiet so it wouldn’t be insanely busy on their first few weeks of service. Their hope was the quiet opening would give their staff the opportunity to work out any and all kinks with service.
I’m going to do this post a little differently than normal. My partner and I dined here twice within a 1 month period, and had very different experiences. So instead of doing 2 separate posts, I’m going to do a comparison post. In my view, the key to a successful restaurant is consistency. The last thing you want is you’re guests having a great experience, and then return and have a terrible experience, which unfortunately is what happened in this situation.
The dining room is a good size, lots of mixtures of table styles and sizes. I love love love the exposed brick wall and the wood tables. However, they didn’t design the space themselves, it was all remaining from the last restaurant that had occupied that space.
On our first visit, we were quickly brought to a table and the server was over right away to give us menus and to take drink orders. Their menu has quite a variety of items available, from stir fry to gourmet hot dogs. All the menu items are served solo, and then you can choose to add a side dish should you want one. I liked this idea because you don’t have to deal with substituting items, if you want to be health and have salad instead of fries.
I ordered the Lunch Burger, with added cheese and fries for my side dish. The burger was really tasty! It was nice and charred on the outside, while still being juicy on the inside. The fries were homemade and perfectly cooked. I was impressed with this dish for sure, and would recommend it!
My partner had the Southwest Chicken Panini Wrap with added bacon and cheese, and onion rings for his side. The wrap was also good, the cheese really helped bind it together so I would definitely recommend adding cheese (lets be honest, you can never go wrong with adding cheese!). The onion rings were extra crispy and all the same size and shape, which makes me think they are not homemade.
Our server on this day was attentive and was always making his rounds through the dining room to ensure all guests had what they needed. He checked back frequently to do make sure we were enjoying our meals, which we were.
That sums up our first experience, which I would rate 4/5 stars.
Almost a month later, we returned for lunch again as we enjoyed our experience the first time and the price is right at the Salthouse. It was about the same level of busy on this day as it was the first time. We were brought to our table quickly and our server dropped us off some water. We waited quite a while before she came back to get a drink order, approximately 10 minutes. Then we waited another 10 minutes before she returned with them. We ordered our meals then as we didn’t want to wait until she came back again and we were hungry.
We started with the Spinach and Artichoke dip. The presentation of the dish needs a little fine tuning. The dish needed to be wiped as there were splashes of the dip on the side of it. The napkin that was under the dish was covered in grease, which was a little off putting. The flavour and consistently of the dip was good, we easily finished the whole thing. I think they could make it a bit better by adding some more spinach and maybe even a bit more of garlic (I can always add more garlic). Our server did not return to do a quality check.
After waiting approximately 30 minutes, our mains finally arrived while our dirty appetizer plate was still on the table. I had the Garlic Stirfry with chicken added. It didn’t look very impressive. The plate was splattered with sauce, giving it a really messy look and simply thrown together with no care or attention given. The description of the dish states it is served over basmati rice, mine was served with a long grain white rice. Not that it’s a huge deal, but if a dish is altered from the menu the servers should make their guests aware of that at the time of ordering. My stirfry was missing the cauliflower and celery. Our server did not return until our plates were empty (which didn’t take long as it was small). I did tell her that my dish was missing veggies and she replied with “oh okay”. Bit of an odd response in my opinion.
We asked for our Cheque and left hungry, dissatisfied and confused of how our 2 experiences could be that different. As I’ve said in my past blog entries, consistency is key for a successful restaurant. You want your guests to return to your establishment and know exactly how their experience will be. Sadly, this was not the case at the Salthouse. My last experience here was enough to make me not want to return. I would rate my second experience at 2/5 stars, because while the presentations of both dishes were sloppy and the service was terrible, the flavour of the dishes was good. With my 2 experiences combined, I’d give the Salthouse 3/5 stars overall.
Until next time,
Dates Visited: March 17, 2019 & April 14, 2019