Kathy Sidell is without a doubt one of Boston’s most renowned and successful restaurateurs. With her vastly expanded, but still quality controlled, Met Restaurant Group, Sidell has since opened up her freshest restaurant yet, Saltie Girl, located right next door to The Met Back Bay on Newbury and Dartmouth.
Different from her other concept, Saltie Girl is a small spot, with a few booths and a collection of bar seats. The rustic interior befits the underlying message that pretention does not lead to perfection and sometimes, enjoyment comes in small tins. The latter speaks to Sidell and Chef Kyle McCelland’s vision ― showcasing the true grit of the sea in all of its forms: be it raw, in tins and cans, cured, torched, fried, or grilled to name just a few.
Having just opened, it is refreshing to see a restaurant that is already so poised to present such a unique and bold identity. Wine lists have a solid diversity in red, rosé, and white, pours by the glass are served in regular glasses. Its full bar is spun into fun and unique cocktails like the ‘Apricot’, a spin on a daiquiri with a touch of Brandy; or the ‘agave’, tequila, raw honey, lime, and mint.
When it comes to the menu, it is divided according to the way the fish is prepared. Many diners might shy away from food served in a can. The negative association between cans and what is considered ‘fresh catch’ is turned on its head at Saltie Girl.
Just like the pickling process, a tin or can of delicious, quality fish can actually present as a convenient and scrumptious snack and in many cases, a meal. The preservation process allows the fish to gain in flavor with time, and to travel from the four corners of the world to a restaurant for your enjoyment.
Of course, the restaurant does a fabulous job with presentation and accouterments. Presented it's own way, with three different salts, a house-made jam and rustic bread, the deep selection of tinned fish from all over the globe will simply blow your mind.
Every other item on the menu is similarly well executed. Torched salmon belly on a bed of tart apples and avocado is a beautifully vibrant dish in both taste and aesthetic. From the fryer, calamari or whole belly Ipswich clams come piping hot with garlic aioli or tartar sauce. The already infamous fried lobster and waffles is light and juicy, paired with a cornbread waffle and slightly spicy maple syrup.
Even their baked fish is on point. And for those who prefer a non-pescatarian diet, its burger shows excellent promise, as does the toasted gnocchi and aged steak tartare. Whether you are in the area and in the mood for a quick snack… a tinned fish board perhaps? Or are in it to win it, Saltie Girl is a much needed addition to an area that is so often over populated by your average American menu.