This week, they got their answer. Salt Factory served its first meals Monday at its 102 S. Main St. location.
“We started work in February, then I took a break for a month. We got our plans approved six weeks ago but after everything was done, I said uh oh, I don’t like how we designed it,” said co-owner Hicham Akhari, who cheerfully concedes he has an obsessive personality that demands perfection in every detail.
So the opening got pushed back yet again to make time for a re-do. The second of its kind – the original on Roswell’s Canton Street has been jam-packed since Day One – has an interior very similar to its sibling – brick walls, chalkboard menus, white subway tile and plenty of maple and cedar in the bar, tables and chairs. But the dining areas, both inside and on the patio, offer almost 40 more seats than the postage-stamp size Salt in Roswell. A second side patio, adjacent to a bocce ball court complete with the exact type of sand called for by regulation, will serve drinks only.
Akhari, who with partner Fikret Kovac owns Salt’s corporate parent, F & H Food Trading Co., spent months assembling a comprehensive offering of craft beers and brews for local and regional breweries. There are two dozen on draught, and as many as 60 in bottles. The Alpharetta Salt offers a locally owned, chef-intensive dining option in the midst of north Fulton’s thicket of national chain eateries and fast food joints. Overseen by F & H’s Culinary Director Robert McDonough and executed by executive chef Raja Warfield and sous chef Jacob Theiss, the menu has the dishes popular at the Roswell location as well as a few new ones exclusive to Alpharetta.
Picking standouts is always difficult, but it’s hard to go wrong with a salad of fresh kale, radicchio, shallots, toasted sliced almonds, pecorino cheese and golden raisins dressed in a sweet yet tangy lemon vinaigrette. It’s a bright, clean-tasting mélange.
Prince Edward Island mussels are a Salt signature, with the recipe tweaked just a bit since it first appeared on the menu in Roswell. The sauce of roasted garlic, chipotle, cilantro, tomato, white wine and a squeeze of lime nicely enhances the shellfish.
Oysters make a Salt debut on the half shell, fried or broiled with local meat purveyor Patak’s andouille sausage and panko crumbs as well as a classic Rockefeller presentation with fresh baby spinach. Also look for wings from naturally raised chickens, another Salt newcomer. In addition to Buffalo or lemon pepper, both with all house-made ingredients, there is a Korean BBQ wing that is zingy, full-flavored and spectacularly delicious.
The beer menu will take some time to navigate, but it would be hard to go wrong with a Houblon Chaffe Dobbelen Belgian IPA, a medium-bodied, hoppy brew with a slight herbal component and a nicely bitter finish.
The Alpharetta Salt Factory should be up on the Salt web site, www.saltfactorypub.com, this week, Akhari said.