At the most basic level, a meal out provides you with food that someone else shopped for and cooked. Of course, basic restaurant meals don’t get talked about or written about on travel blogs. What does get talked about – and remembered for a lifetime – is the rare dining experience that is an entertaining experience from beginning to end, like that which you’ll enjoy at Salt’s chef table in Amelia Island, Florida.
Salt is the fine dining restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island. It’s a concept restaurant that highlights over 40 varieties of exotic salts, ironic since every plate is prepared perfectly. The artisan salts that come to the table from all over the world serve not to mask bland food, but to create additional culinary journeys for each bite. Finishing salts, as these flavor options are called, allow the diner a chance to play chef to a tiny degree.
A night at the Chef’s Table allows you to watch the real deal at work.
A Chef’s Table – or the Chef’s Kitchen Adventure – experience takes place in the working kitchen of Salt. A private table is set behind a picture window that looks out over the busy kitchen line. You get to watch the well-oiled machine that turns out as many as 150 covers a night, as well as the sometimes high-tech cooking techniques that turn fresh ingredients into tasteful surprises like corn ice cream.
As a guest of The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island, my husband and I were treated to a tasting menu that included several varieties of seafood and thin strips of tender beef cooked on a Himalayan salt block. The beef was brought to the table rare and finished to personal preference on the still hot salt block. (Salt blocks and bowls that can be used for cooking at home are available in the Salt gift shop and would make fantastic gifts for the foodie or hostess in your life.)
Although a menu is available, a tasting menu puts in you the capable and creative hands of Chef Rick Laughlin, a Ritz-Carlton veteran who’s as hospitable as he is talented. His passion is evident as, course after course, he draws on his experience to surprise his guests’ taste buds. He describes each plating with love and pride and it’s clear that each combination is a personal offering; it’s difficult to imagine not feeling a sense of honor as the recipient of such gifts.
The food at Salt is phenomenal and easily surpasses the expectations set by the label “fine dining”. However, the Chef’s Kitchen Adventure, which is available to one dining group most nights with advanced reservations, is a once in a lifetime experience worth calling ahead for.
All photos by Britt Reints, who was a guest of Salt for this meal.