Food

Black Salt

Jeff and Barbara Black's fishmarket/dining room is always packed.

January 2006 100 Very Best Restaurants

THE SCENE. You can't buy the kind of buzz that a loyal neighborhood following plus positive word of mouth have given Jeff and Barbara Black's newest and most ambitious restaurant, their first in the District. Black Salt does triple duty: as a fish market stocked with an exotic array of creatures from the deep; a stainless-steel bar, where almost as much eating goes on as drinking and gossiping; and a swanky dining room.

WHAT YOU'LL LOVE. Variety and freshness alone make this a destination for seafood lovers. But this is no mere fish house–the wine list includes many half bottles along with interesting four- and seven-ounce pours, and a lineup of first-growth coffees wraps things up with flair.

WHAT YOU WON'T. Too-bright lighting combined with high noise levels during peak hours. And at times heavy-handed saucing and overly busy plates can make you pine for the clean simplicity of the raw bar.

BEST DISHES. A cream-laden New England clam chowder; excellent oysters on the half shell; shack-style fried Ipswich clams; fresh white anchovies drizzled with black-olive oil; wood-roasted Mediterranean bronzini with pancetta; a tureen of bourride loaded with oysters, diver scallops, and fingerling potatoes and spiked with Pernod; memory-lane sweets like butterscotch pot de crème and a plate of house-made cookies and candies.

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