Take a stroll along Delray’s vivacious Atlantic Avenue, and you’re likely to see a lively crowd gathering around an outdoor patio at “Worthing Place" near SE 2nd Ave, at the area’s new hot spot. The patio provides a perfect perch to savor a drink from the indoor/outdoor bar, relax on a comfy couch, or just check out the effervescent action along ‘The Ave’ -- and of course, to get a taste of this exciting new restaurant called Salt 7.
Inside the chic-yet-casual, Asia-meets-South Beach setting, you’ll find earth tones, light woods, and modernistic appointments with a slight Asian slant. The convivial front bar sports a cool open access to the patio, and shakes up some killer cocktails. To wit, a refreshing WW Watermelon, starring fresh pressed watermelon and cucumber vodka; or the Lemonade Blues, with huckleberry vodka and fresh berries. Other highlights include a gleaming sushi bar, glass-enclosed wine room, semi-open kitchen, and cuisine of impeccable standards. The kitchen makes nearly everything in house from scratch, sourcing only the freshest, finest ingredients available. Meats, seafood, and produce arrive fresh daily, never frozen. In fact, much of the fish was literally swimming in pristine Hawaiian waters just one day catching an express jet directly to Salt 7. Managing Partner George Valantasis proudly notes, “we don’t even have a freezer here!” That means limited orders and very few “leftovers,” so don’t be too disappointed if your favorite item is sold out.
So what’s with the “Salt 7” moniker? As the affable George explains, it refers to the natural sea salts (from the 7 seas, get it?) comprising their proprietary steak rub. The chefs employ the artful blend deftly to accentuate, but not overwhelm the meat. And that’s a good thing – because with steaks of this quality, there’s no need (and in my book, no excuse!) to mask their natural goodness. We’re talking organically raised, grass-fed, USDA Prime beef here – the top one-half of 1% available. Each steak arrives to your table seared to precision, a veritable paradigm of steak perfection. Options range from a butter-soft 8-oz. Filet Mignon, to a prodigious 27-ounce Porterhouse. My recommendation? Go for the signature bone-in filet mignon, appropriately dubbed “The Chairman.”
Salt 7 spins a sizzling steak story indeed. But there’s more chapters to this book – namely, the sushi. Sushi Chef Ruey Yan demonstrates stunning knife mastery to match his rare finesse of capturing the supple textures and subtle nuances of each fish and the accompanying elements. Under Chef Ruey’s surgeon-like hands, fresh fish becomes edible works of art that look almost too beautiful to eat – almost! Starting with impeccably fresh fish (that never even sees a freezer), the chef presents an array of sushi, sashimi, and rolls. Special catches may include Hawaiian Sun Fish, Amaebi (sweet shrimp), and the sacred Toro (fatty tuna belly). Traditional Maki rolls ($14-$17) are available – but be adventurous, and try Salt 7’s unique Specialty Rolls, like the Angel Qi Qi, with smoked hamachi, eel, and wakame salad; Aloha (king crab, avocado, pineapple & mango wrapped in soy paper); and the Surf & Turf, a monumental compilation of Maine lobster, avocado, asparagus, and Prime filet mignon. Or for a true adventure, allow the chef to go Omakase (chef’s choice), and custom-make unique creations just for you. Sashimi “Lollipops,” for example, appeared as sushi roll medallions enveloped in diaphanous cucumber “leaves,” wistfully skewered on celery stalk “stems” emerging from a decorative glass -- like flowers blooming from a vase, just waiting to be plucked (and eaten!). Next came fresh chopped tuna entwined within a crispy wonton wrapper, magically spiraling from an avocado base, to form the “Tuna Bomb.” Fresh raspberries and blackberries provide not only bright contrast to the chef’s visual palette, but also a perfect intermezzo-like refresher for your own taste palate. Even more impressive was the chef’s Rainbow Pearl, a mysterious red orb, which at first resembled a weird tomato or something. But closer examination revealed a delicate layer of ruby red tuna carpaccio, masterfully enwrapped around a sphere of succulent king crab leg. The red globe came precariously perched upon an inverted, seemingly empty wonton basket -- which upon being lifted, revealed a hidden treasure of hamachi carpaccio, avocado, and pineapple. Brilliant!
Other Entrées ($27-$53) include Chilean Sea Bass, Prime Veal Chop, and the Daily Catch. Inspired Sides are another must-read chapter of the Salt 7 story, with the likes of Lobster Mac ‘n Cheese, Roasted Garlic Mushrooms, and our favorite, the incredible Braised Brussels Sprouts with Prosciutto. The story prefaces with Starters ($4-$17) including Lamb Chops, Hawaiian Tuna Poke (another definite winner!), and Prime Sliders with white cheddar & truffles. Yet another chapter encompasses a Late Night Menu, with provocative bites like Black Truffle Popcorn, Fried Pickle Spears, and Habanero-Crusted Oyster Puffs. The final chapter reads of Desserts, including Loukoumades (fresh-made Greek doughnuts drizzled with manuka honey), a refreshing Gelato Sampler, and the signature Sea Salted Caramel Cupcakes, made exclusively for Salt 7 by nearby Cupcake Couture.
Service, by the way, was equally outstanding under the solid guidance of GM Larry Thomas, a seasoned who credentials include Morton’s and Abe & Louie’s. Our waiter delivered a level of attentiveness, proficiency, and most importantly, personality worthy of praise. As the evening progresses, so does the action, and the lively bar scene (inside and outside) kicks into high gear. So we’re heading back to the front patio – and put that cool bar to the test!