SALT typifies the term “hole-in-the-wall”. It is in a residential neighborhood, minutes away from the commercial arteries of Makati. From the outside, it looks just like any other mid-class bungalow house. It’s easy to miss, if not for its moon-like signage and its open gate.
Inside is no different. Dining at SALT feels like you’ve been invited to a new neighbors’ home. The walls of the dining area are freshly-painted and still unadorned; the wooden furniture gleam; the AC’s still at its prime.
The new neighbor is an all-male trio. Long-time friends Jobet, Kevin, and Marco, have always wanted to have a place where they can hangout, relax, and eat good food without spending a fortune. “Mga bugoy lang kami, mga single, na mahihilig sa steak. Opening up a restaurant was just wishful thinking,” Jobet relates. The boys claim that through God’s will, their enthusiasm, and the faith of their investors, they managed to put up SALT in a few months’ time. “We’ve thought of opening a restaurant in December last year. We welcomed our first guests, June 6 of this year.”
Just like the place, SALT’s menu is small, simple, and straightforward. “We want to keep it to around 15 or 16 items,” Jobet emphasized. The menu is a listing of the trio’s favorite food, made in house using local ingredients. Steak, the pack's favorite, gets the first billing.
T-bone Steak (P190)
A lot has been said about SALT’s steaks but it can easily be summed up to: “you get what you pay for”. Your P190 at SALT will get you an inch-thick T-bone steak from “Angas” beef (that’s for Batangas cattle, not a typo). Marbling, as you would have guessed from the price, is low. SALT’s T-bone serving is also missing the filet mignon (we’re guessing this bit is chopped up and used for The Burger’s patty). But despite these, we still think SALT’s steak is better than its counterparts with the same price points.
Order SALT’s T-bone and you’ll figure that Batangas beef shares the same trait as their people counterpart (or so the stereotypes say): tenacious on the outside but tender and interesting in the core. Expect a little struggle in slicing the meat. Don’t worry, though, as no effort here goes unrewarded. A few chews will coat your palate with beef juice. It might surprise you, as it did to us, that such succulence can be squeezed out from a local beef, grilled medium.
Properly salted, the T-bone steak is enjoyable on its own. But we encourage you to experiment and match it with its accompanying sauces: barbecue, traditional gravy, or pepper cream. Personal preference of the author found the buttery pepper cream to be its rightful groom. But it can’t be denied that it also flirts nicely with traditional gravy.
The Burger (P220)
SALT went against the current trend of including in the menu an insane-burger-that’s-crazier-that-it-needs-to-be. Instead, it offers a simple but satisfying burger, dressed with cheese, lettuce, onion rings, and tomatoes, then sandwiched in between soft and sweet Brioche buns.
The kitchen clearly wanted people to focus on the patty. And focus, they should, because a patty of that quality warrants attention. As hypothesized earlier, we think that the T-bone’s missing filet mignon is minced, mixed with seasonings, and then hand-rolled to make the patty of The Burger. We may be wrong about its source but we’re positive that The Burger’s patty is 100% beef and homemade. It’s cooked medium-rare so it’s easy to tell that the patty is seasoned pure beef. Eating this is like eating steak, sandwiched in buns. It’s one of the better burgers we’ve had in a long time.
Grilled Cajun Chicken (P180)
Jobet personally endorsed this unassuming plate of grilled chicken. “It’s my favorite,” he repeatedly told us.
Grilled Cajun Chicken
Contrary to how it looks, the chicken is a Southern party of flavors and spices (pepper, garlic, paprika?), made even better by the accompanying onion-tomato-and-corn mix. The meat is moist through and through. Not one bit was bland and boring.
Grilled Tuna (P220)
SALT brands itself as a steakhouse so every first-timer here orders the T-bone. It is not until the second or third visit that people discover the Grilled Tuna. And that’s okay too, because once you go tuna, you won’t want any otha’.
Served as a thick block, SALT’s Grilled Tuna is the freshest one we’ve had in a while. At a poke, the slivers of the moist flesh fans out beautifully on the plate. Get a piece, top it with the home-pickled atsara, and take a mouthful. Wet, sweet, tangy, and salty. The last time we’ve had a tuna this submissive was when we were feasting on a freshly-grilled fillet by the beach on Samal Island. It’s that good.
Desserts: Frozen Brazo de Mercedes (P110) and Tartufo Ball (P130)
Even the dessert here impresses. We’ve tried two out of three: Frozen Brazo de Mercedes (P110) and Tartufo Ball (P130), both made in-house. SALT does an excellent version of the frozen Brazo. The fluffy meringue melts as soon as it lands in your mouth. The ice cream, velvety custard, and graham are left to party. It’s not as sweet as you’d expect from how it looks like. Even non-dessert fans would love a slice.
SALT’s Tartufo Ball is their ice cream interpretation of chocolate truffles. It’s basically chocolate ice cream, covered with bitter cocoa. A sweet-sour cherry hides in its core. Unlike the Frozen Brazo, this relentlessly rich dessert should be reserved to hard-core chocoholics. The resto will soon have coffee. We're guessing a cup will pair well with this.
SALT is barely two months old. It’s a little too early to judge but based on what we’ve seen and had, we say this resto is worth one’s salt. If they can maintain their quality, standardize their supplies, and most importantly keep the enthusiasm, this hole-in-the-wall has got a shot at becoming a neighborhood icon.
SALT is located at 5887 Fermina St. corner Enriquez St., Poblacion, Makati. It is open from Tuesday to Saturday (5:00 pm – 1:00 am) and on Sundays from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm, and 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm.
How to get there:
By car: from Burgos Avenue, Makati, turn right to Kalayaan St., turn left to Gloria St., then turn left on Enriquez St.
Commute: According to Jobet, one can walk (about 1 km) to SALT from Rockwell Mall. You may also ride a Guadalupe - Ayala jeep. Alight on Kalayaan corner Fermina St. Walk three blocks to SALT.