"I like to build restaurants that will be around a long time," says Jeff Black, whose Black Salt in Northwest DC follows a string of successful ventures in Montgomery County–Black's Bar & Kitchen, Addie's, and Black Market Bistro. He loved the space he had found for his new restaurant–it was built as a supermarket and then used as a drugstore–but it was too big for the kind of restaurant he wanted to open. He tried to think of another use that would fit with the needs of the neighborhood. "It hit me one day," he says. "What this place needs is a fish market." Black Salt was born.
It is primarily a seafood restaurant. "We've tried to take a fresh approach with the menu," says Black, who is avoiding butter and cream sauces and looking at cultures that prepare fish differently–Japan, Thailand, Spain, and Portugal. "We wanted to stay away from fried seafood, too, but one day we put fried Ipswich clams on, and they've been such a hit that we can't take them off."
Black Salt offers fewer entrées than most restaurants. The menu usually features seven specials and some small plates, which Black hopes will encourage diners to try different dishes. A tasting menu offers seven courses for $78, but "most people never get to all seven," he says.
The seafood market, staffed by a chef who will give advice on how to cook the fish, includes a selection of prepared foods. Black is in the kitchen. "It's my dream kitchen," he says, "with every toy I've ever wanted."
Black Salt: 4883 MacArthur Blvd.; 202-342-9101; blacksaltrestaurant.com.
Open Tuesday through Saturday for lunch, Tuesday through Sunday for dinner, and Sunday for brunch.