The best things in life, the beautiful things, often take a little bit of finding.
We recently wandered into Salt Cuisine, located at 2188 Kensington Ave., about a half mile from Main Street in Snyder.
Cliche as it is, “hidden gem,” applies here perfectly. Salt could be easily missed, passed over for the more prominently positioned eateries on Main Street. Fortunately, its location guaranteed its survival through the Picture Main Street project in the Village of Williamsville that, due to sidewalk closures, took the life of at least one business.
“We wouldn’t have survived if we were on Main Street,” said Chef Beth James.
Its survival is supremely fortunate because Salt specializes in beautiful food cooked with quality ingredients, and who doesn’t enjoy that? They offer an ever-changing menu — posted daily to its Facebook page — that always includes a soup, quiche, panini, wrap, sandwich, salad and handful of specials. They also offer a freezer case full of grab-and-go items: soups, pizzas, macaroni and cheese, chicken teriyaki, hummus and meatballs.
When we arrived, a “Galentine’s Day” party was underway, with peels of laughter and shimmery decor spilling out. The interior feels Parisian chic, as if we stumbled into a French cafe. Lavender coats the walls; antique chandeliers hang from the ceiling; and wooden tables and industrial style lights imbue a trendy edge.
Beth James, the chef, stopped over to chat. Originally from Toronto, she opened Salt four years ago under the conditions that she would be able to “cook what she wanted.”
It is possible to eat lunch or a light dinner for around $10. (Oddly, though, none of the prices are listed. I needed my receipt to see what everything cost.) A panini, for example, is $7.99 and a wrap $9.99, prices that are in the vicinity of what most restaurants, and ones serving lesser-quality foods, charge. I would not come here, however, expecting the most food for your dollar. What Salt will provide each guest is close-your-eyes, savor-the-taste moments after each bite.
Guests order at the counter, and food is brought to the table. We ordered a sampling: spanakopita ($1.75), Cajun shrimp ($3.25 for two), three cheese panini ($7.99), quiche slice ($6.99), avocado and shrimp wrap ($9.99), lobster bisque ($5.49) and strawberry spinach salad ($7.99).
The shrimp were expertly cooked, not over-done, with a just-right amount of Cajun heat. The spanakopita was a small but tasty addition to the meal. The panini was nicely crisped with a sprinkling of everything seasoning on the outside that gave a surprise flavor. The bisque was an excellent rendition, the salad light and fresh and the wrap well balanced with crunch and heft.
The quiche was my favorite. It was sweet from the caramelized onions, creamy from goat cheese and infused with a peppery kick throughout.
At Salt, we felt cared-for. It’s in the small things, like mason jars full of pink and white striped straws on every table, and being brought glasses full with ice for our drinks without us asking. Most of all, it’s in the food.
My favorite bit came at the end, when we enjoyed coffee ($2.75) and a blonde brownie ($4.99). The coffee, made to order, was deep and rich. It paired beautifully with the brownie, which was drizzled with sweet, tangy raspberry sauce.
Salt may be a mineral, but here it’s a gem — one that’s absolutely worth finding.
2188 Kensington Ave., Snyder (839-0300)
Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Closed Sunday and Monday.
Gluten-free options: Yes, very accommodating.