Q&A WITH SALT’S
CHEF MARK GOLD
I love dining at hotel restaurants. I love that feeling that you’re on vacation—living it up while escaping from the mundane. And dining at SALT at Marina Del Rey Hotel with its killer marina view offers a relaxing spot where you can indulge with a first-rate meal.
Seasonally inspired and locally sourced, SALT serves fresh California cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And executive chef Mark Gold looks at his menu of American cuisine offerings as “playful” as well as a direct communication between a chef and his guests.
At SALT, Californian cuisine explores simple favorites with a contemporary twist. Creamy hummus is complemented with a touch of California avocado, creating a velvety spread served with crisp grilled pita and fresh vegetables to dip. Delicious lobster pasta features sweet, buttery Maine lobster on a bed of Udon noodles in a succulent brown butter sauce. And let’s not forget the fabulous Warm French Baguette with Normandy butter, which is simply out of this world good! That same bread and butter is featured in the must-have Bread…Butter…And Beef dish where a 40-day dry-aged New York steak comes to life in a spectacular way.
Following is a conversation with Chef Mark Gold where he describes his menu at SALT as well as what it like to dine in such a special setting.
How did you approach creating the menu at SALT? And how much did the fact that you’re a hotel restaurant come into play?
Being on the water in Marina del Rey definitely had a lot to do with the creating of SALT’s menu. The fact that we are in a hotel also played into consideration, initiating entrees that we felt were needed to meet the desires of our hotel guests. A lot has changed over the course of time. Our menu has blossomed into seasonally-inspired dishes based on the time of year, and we continually look to elevate the guest experience through our menu and the seasons.
How would you describe your menu?
I would describe it as well thought out, playful, and in the season! Playful in a sense that we continue to have fun and push the envelope to see where it takes us. We have started a “Meet Me at the Egg” menu, which is based around a grill called The Green Egg. We place it on the patio where the guests are seated and create a menu for the night, which comes from the egg. Guests are encouraged to bring their glass of wine and cook with the Chef as we prepare their dish. It is interactive, fun, and guests really enjoy it.
How many of your dining guests stay at the hotel versus how many are locals and people who make SALT a dining destination?
We actually just researched this subject and discovered that the majority of our guests are locals. We still attract a lot of hotel guests but it’s refreshing to see SALT as a dining destination for the local community too.
I loved the Spanish Octopus and the ‘Poutine’. Are these daring dishes for a hotel restaurant?
These are daring dishes for a typical hotel restaurant; however, SALT is different. With the clientele that we are drawing, it seems as though nothing is too daring for our guests. Our unique entrees are well received, appreciated, and liked by many.
I was a little put off by the cost of the Warm French Baguette so I purposely didn’t order it. However, it came with the Bread…Butter…And Beef and it was amazing! Now I only want Normandy butter! Talk about using that butter and what it does to that dish.
We were introduced to Normandy butter by our friend Segolene of Gourmet Imports. When we placed the baguette on the menu, we sold 2,400 of them in the first four months! It was shocking. The butter itself truly takes the baguette to the next level. It is the best butter that I have found and one that our guests truly enjoy and divulge in. As for the Bread…Butter…and Beef, you are right, it is an amazing sandwich. It proves that when you use the best butter, the best bread, and a 45-day old dry-aged NY steak, it does not require much more than that! It is simply divine.
I loved the richness and flavor of the Maine Lobster Pasta. What can you say about that dish?
It is a dish that I have been doing for quite some time that has become a guest favorite. We use a Japanese noodle called Inaniwa, which is a type of Udon noodle. In addition, we use a fresh 1.5lb Maine lobster and a sauce made with dashi, butter, brown butter, and yuzu. Then we finish the dish with toasted buckwheat and Vaudova.
What do you consider a must-have menu item?
If it was up to me, I would say our Grilled Cheese. We use Gjusta sourdough, raclette cheese from Reading Farms in Vermont, and, of course, the Normandy butter. And if it’s truffle season, we serve a Perigord black truffle version of it. It is insane!
Where do you see your menu going?
I see it trending towards playful, creative, and full of surprises. Approachable, yet a certain elegance at the same time.
What’s the next item or dish you are obsessed with?
Tough question. It really depends on the season. We’re currently working on our halibut dish for the Spring season.
What do you hope a guest takes away from dining at SALT?
We want you to feel the warmth and the personality of SALT. I hope they take away a sense of home and being take care of. It’s truly a memorable experience.
SALT is located at Marina Del Rey Hotel at 13534 Bali Way in Marina del Rey. Call 310-301-1000.
Story by Jose Martinez
Photography Courtesy Of: SALT