Friday, June 12, 2015

Sea Salt For Lunch, Brunch Or Dinner

Sundial St. Pete, formerly known as BayWalk, is a shopping, dining and entertainment complex in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. The Belle of Gulf Boulevard and I wandered into the main plaza yesterday a little past noon with the intent of visiting the much talked about Locale Market. Hardly had we made it past the almost three story center piece, a huge ... whatchamacallit ... um, sundial? ...  before I spied my gastronomic heart's desire.

I had heard that chef Fabrizio Aielli was planning to open a fine-dining restaurant, featuring an 80-foot long raw bar, a 20-foot-tall wine tower, and Florida's freshest seafood with 130 different salts from around the world. Sea Salt was immediately placed at the top of my culinary bucket list so it was a most pleasant surprise to stumble upon Sea Salt and find it open.

My bride and I raced upstairs (okay, trudged slowly) and entered the Sea Salt outdoor dining area. We were promptly greeted and asked about our seating preferences. It was a most pleasant day, so we chose to sit outdoors.

David, our engaging server, took our drink orders ... a couple of glasses of Zardetto Brut Prosecco. Along with the wine, we received a sample of three of the 130 salts used by the chef. One was a pink Himalayan, then an earthy brown Hawaiian, and a salt from India with hints of sulfur.

David suggested taking a slice of bread from the basket, spooning a little olive oil on top, and then a few sprinkles of salt. Each salt had its own distinctive flavor, and none of them reminded me of the Mortons I grew up with.

For her lunch entree, my bride chose the superb Wagyu Beef Burger with fontina cheese, sliced avocado, tomato and grilled onion. To further enhance this decadently delicious burger, a sunny side up egg was placed on top. When the Belle broke the yoke a yellow gravy brought this burger to an even higher level.

While the fries may have seemed like a rather trite accompaniment, this was not the case. Those fries were crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, but what set them apart is they actually tasted like potatoes.

I decided to stick with small plates since Sea Salt had several menu items never or rarely seen in the Tampa Bay area. To begin my Sea Salt adventure I chose the chef's selection of oysters. I tend to judge a restaurant serving oysters with how well they are shucked and presented. These northern mollusks were shucked and presented well.

As soon as I saw Sugar Cane Tuna Lollipops on the appetizer menu I knew they would be mine. Unfortunately, the kitchen couldn't find the sugar cane, but the chef did plate the tuna adorned with buttery buratta, an Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream, and then topped off with black truffle. I have had really good tuna, but never this good. Those two tuna chunks verily melted in my mouth. I did not miss the cane.

My second small plate was the Wahoo and Peekytoe Crab. Small cubes of succulent wahoo nestled under a topping of shredded peekytoe, orange pickled carrot, and a balsamic tamari sauce. The wahoo and peekytoe was a match made in ... well, the kitchen by a chef who obviously knows seafood.

At this juncture, we needed a dessert like we needed an extra stomach ... which we did, but we ordered dessert anyway. We received the Chocolate Dome, a light, airy, and rich mousse with a hearty drizzle of caramel and the cutest little white chocolate balls.

That was the finest two hour lunch we have enjoyed in quite awhile and Sea Salt demands another visit from us. All food and more than a couple refills on the prosecco came to $145.52. David was deserving of a 20% + gratuity.

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  1. Your pics compels me to devour!! Thanks for sharing.

    1. You are very welcome.

      For those interested you may find Mr. Stoneman's blog here: