Matthew Lickona 5 p.m., Dec. 9
Salt and Cleaver: moonshine, brats, and duck confit
New sausage spot in Hillcrest gives Midwestern football food a big-dollar makeover
Salt and Cleaver has been open for a little while, but I hadn’t had a chance to go check it out until just now. The extensive remodel on the building’s interior put a lot of distance between the new restaurant and the old Cote Sud. According to the website, Salt and Cleaver is supposed to be modelled after 1860s industrial Chicago. That seems oddly specific, but it did come out looking good in there; much more a romantic dream of industry than an Uptown Sinclair slaughterhouse nightmare. It helps that they were playing great music.
At first, the cynics say, “Hey. Cool. How is this not just the Linkery in Hillcrest?”
And to some extent they are correct. Salt and Cleaver resembles the Linkery if you paint a picture in broad strokes. The devil, as they say, is in the details.
The delight at Salt and Cleaver is how the sausages are dressed up. Take the Duck.Duck.Pig ($12), for instance. The duck and pork sausage was good, but the application of frisee and orange supremes sealed the deal. The little bites of duck confit didn't hurt, either.
On their IPA Bratwurst ($9) it was the snappy sauerkraut, pungent mustard, flavorful roasted peppers, and chewy pretzel bun that gave the sausage its robust character.
Cucumber fries ($4) were an excellent, and novel, side dish of long, thin spears of cucumber tossed in spices and a light oil. Served with a tangy tzatziki sauce, the cool snap of the cucumbers was a good balance for the rich sausages. Regular french fries ($4) were hot, crispy, and fried hard with a double-dip in the hot fryer.
With a glut of beers on tap and a full bar, Salt and Cleaver won’t be leaving anyone thirsty. I tried a Mule drink made with a California moonshine (a different brand than the Kill Devil moonshine I mused over a while back). My first instinct? It tasted like vodka. This merits further investigation.
Salt and Cleaver was not cheap. A couple drinks and sausages for two pushed the bill up past sixty bucks, which seemed like a splurge on brats and moonshine. A fine line separates a Wisconsin, backwoods barbecue and a happening new Hillcrest restaurant.
3805 Fifth Avenue