Note: Salud closed in 2012, after the restaurant was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.
The arrival of any new restaurant in the Seaport district is newsworthy, because there are so few of them, and what’s there is in general so bland. Pier 17 itself is the haunt of tourists and weekend revelers, although Sequoia at the end of the pier is worth a visit for satisfactory seafood and some of the best views in Manhattan.
Salud is about a block away from the Seaport’s main drag. The space was formerly a sushi bar called Orange Peel. The place has been gutted, and it is now the most civilized dining space so close to the Seaport. Walk in, and the hubbub nearby is left behind. There is a cool dark glow to the polished wood tables and white walls. An live ensemble plays Spanish music, but although Salud’s space is small, the noise doesn’t overwhelm table conversation.
The cuisine is described as “South American,” of which I have no other experience with which to compare. The menu offers both Tapas (about $8-12 each) and entrée-sized mains (about $17-25 each). Fish/seafood dishes, the restaurant’s specialty, outnumber meat/vegetable dishes. I wasn’t that hungry, so I ordered two tapas. Rellenos stuffed with seafood were a big hit. The plate came with three hot cupcake-sized rellenos, each with baby shrimp, clams, and calimari inside (at least, that’s what I took the ingredients to be). Crispy & spicy chicken was not as happy a choice, as the chicken had been a bit over-cooked. The dish had potential, though. It reminded me of General Tso’s chicken, but it was a cut well above the freeze-dried versions found in so many Chinese restaurants; it just needed to come out of the deep fryer a bit sooner.
My mother ordered hanger steak, which she reported as flavorful, but having too much gristle. This is the hazard of ordering steak in a restaurant that doesn’t specialize in steak.
I was especially taken with how witty the platings were. My mother’s french fries, for instance, came stacked like Lincoln Logs. The crispy & spicy chicken came with diced green and red peppers arranged around the outside edge of the plate, framing the food. The rellenos had a white cream sauce, overlaid on the seafood in the shape of a letter Z.
I don’t mind hopping on the subway, but this is my neighborhood, and sometimes I want to stay close to home. In a part of town where there haven’t been many options, any new arrival is something to cheer about. It’ll take a few more visits to take the measure of Salud, but for now I’m happy it’s on the scene.
Salud (142 Beekman Street at Front Street, South Street Seaport)