Restaurant Review: Salts -- Good food close to the InstituteBy Duangjai Samranvedhya
798 Main Street, Cambridge
Lisa Mandy-Rosen, Proprietor
Steve Rosen, Chef
Welcome Freshmen! One cool thing about MIT is that it's just across the river from Boston, the city I fell in love with. Boston offers everything that a good city should: music, plays, musicals, sports, parks, great golf courses, and of course, good food. Let's say it now: for great food, one needs to go to New York City. But I think that Boston offers a lot of stuff to explore.
While there are not that many good restaurants within walking distance from MIT, Salts is one of them. Located on Main Street, it's a ten-minute walk from Lobby 7 along Massachusetts Avenue. Just turn right at the Shell gas station and Salts is a block away. The spot was the home of Anago Bistro for many years before it moved to the Lenox hotel, but the food still needs to live up to the ever-progressing Anago. The thing about Salts is that it's so close to MIT, whenever you're in need of good food, Salts is a safe heaven.
Salts is in a fairly small room with yellow walls, decorated with some paintings. I am most certain that anyone can feel comfortable here. There is no need to dress up for this very casual place. On Sunday evening, there were a bunch of friends, four guys on double dates, two or three middle-age couples, and me. Be sure to make reservations for pre-nine o'clock dinner on Friday and Saturday; otherwise, just call ahead before you walk there to make sure they'll have a table ready for you.
I would give the food three stars out of five. I have read many reviews about Salts and I think it's overrated. The chef is certainly very talented, but there are restaurants that fit into the four and five star categories that Salts has to compete with. Of the things my friend and I had, the goat cheese crepe with salad was the most impressive. Little pieces of goat cheese were wrapped in strips of crepes, served on greens and sliced grapes with grape juice and white wine vinaigrette. It was one of the most amazing salads I've ever had.
My cold sorrel soup was decent, better when eaten with trout salad. One word of advice: when a french menu says some soup served with some salad, it usually means you'll get a bowl of soup served in a shallow bowl with a little salad in the middle. The soup and the salad will compliment each other.
My rating on appetizers alone would have been four stars, since the entree was only decent. My friend had halibut with peppers, which was fairly good, while I had duckling with tart plums. Let's say I've had better duck elsewhere, but that does not mean the food was not good. You'll get good food, but don't go in with high expectations.
The prices average from $7-9 for the appetizers and $17-20 for the entrees. Vegetarian dishes can be found. The menu itself is very easy to read. If you have questions about the ingredients, just ask the waiter - ours was very helpful and very patient in answering my questions. The selection is fairly good, considering Salts is a fairly small restaurant.
As a last word, always ask for the dessert menu - you can take your unfinished entree home. I had vanilla beans and chamomile soup drizzled on fresh fruits. It was good, but quite delicate, so if you're not the kind that appreciates little things, go with the almond chocolate cake.