Last weekend in Seattle I had a meal that dollar-for-dollar was the worst value of my entire life. It was at a place called Salty’s at 1936 Harbor Ave SW in Alki Beach, and quite honestly, I wish I had eaten at McDonald’s.
Salty’s has a great location. Located right on the water in Pudget Sound, it has an amazing view and seems like an awesome restaurant. Unfortunately, it is not. The first sign that this place wasn’t a winner was the dinner music. A trio of smarmy-looking d-bags was set up in the dining room playing some cacophonous attempt at music, attempting to fuse 1930s jazz with the barbershop quartet sound, and succeeding only in ruining both of them.
Sign number two that this wasn’t a very good restaurant, almost nothing on the menu sounded appetizing. At prices ranging from $25 to $50 for an entrée, it seems like they would have had a range of delicious dishes to choose from. I couldn’t seem to find anything. Eventually I settled on the dinner special (ironically called the blue plate), which our server told us was blackened salmon on risotto with a local fruit and vegetable pico de gallo. Natasha had a halibut dish with crab, asparagus and mashed potatoes topped with a béarnaise sauce. Our friend Sherry, with whom we were dining, opted for cedar-smoked coho salmon, while her husband Craig had a bowl of gazpacho and the crab and spinach dip. For an appetizer we split an order of fried oysters.
While the oysters were okay, the highlight of the meal was the complimentary breads. The whole-grain bread and seeded crackers served with herb butter were delicious. Outside of a decent beer selection, this is really the only positive thing I have to say about the place.
The portion size of all the entrees was small, especially considering the price. While Natasha’s dish was okay, it wasn’t spectacular and surely not worth the $35 it cost. Sherry’s dish was the same. Craig had little to say about his gazpacho but didn’t care for the crap and spinach dip. Especially since it was supposed to come with house-made crackers, and instead came with ones that surely came out of a bag.
But my meal was the real loser of the group. While the salmon was well cooked and the pico de gallo was decent, it was served on sticky rice rather than risotto. When I pointed this out to our waiter he said “That is risotto. Sticky rice is risotto.” He then blamed the mistake on the kitchen, though a manager later confirmed it was his mistake. While I know anyone can make a mistake, there is a huge difference between risotto and sticky rice, I would have ordered a different dish had I realized it came with plain rice.
Overall, our waiter was a large part of the problem. Having been a server myself, I try not to be too hard on them, but this guy was brutal. While he was friendly enough, he screwed up the special, tried to take Sherry’s drink before she was done with it and then avoided us at all costs once he realized we were unhappy with our meal. We had to go so far as to ask one of the managers for our tab, as he walked by our table with his eyes averted. Really there’s no excuse for this kind of service, especially at these prices. In fact, had this been a less expensive place, I probably could have overlooked some of the sub-par aspects of the dinner. However, when you’re shelling out more than $100 on a dinner for two, you tend to expect a good, if not great meal.
In closing, I recommend anyone who reads this post avoid Salty’s like the plague. While it has an amazing view, the mediocre food and crappy service do not justify the cost at all.