Charcuterie Joint Serves Fancy Fare
Prices notwithstanding, Salt and Board’s food and drink is excellent
When Salt and Board first opened, I was skeptical of their idea. A charcuterie and wine restaurant in the middle of University Heights, in Albuquerque? Do they really know the crowd they’re catering to? The restaurant, which is owned by the same folks who operate Slice Parlor, is certainly at a higher price point than anything else on the block: They share the street with Cheba Hut, Winning Coffee and Which Wich, all accessibly-priced college student joints. While I am glad to have Salt and Board nearby and plan on being there quite a bit, I’ll admit that my city girl sense began tingling when their stylish black and white sign first went up on the building. Am I getting priced out of my neighborhood?, that sense asked. It might sound like an exaggeration, but it’s a real concern of mine. And I can’t imagine I’m the only one.
But you can love a thing and also be critical of it. And I really do love Salt and Board, partly because—higher price point or no—the place has a much more relaxed and casual vibe than one would expect from the outside. The waitstaff are always friendly and conversational, but still savvy on the changing menu and wine list. When I showed up there on a Sunday afternoon with some friends, all dusty and sweaty from a hike, I didn’t at all feel out of place or unwelcome.
As I mentioned, their tap of local beers is a big draw for me as well—most of their pints are $5 or in the vicinity. The brews are largely the same ones they serve at Slice Parlor locations, featuring at least a couple from Bow & Arrow, Marble and La Cumbre. Since there’s also a couple TVs (always kept on mute, mercifully) above the bar, I could definitely see this as a good place to come watch a baseball game and drink a beer or two. Or a couple glasses of chardonnay, because nobody says you can’t like a sport and also appreciate wine.
The wine list features a lot of West Coast wines, and I frequently see people ordering those single-serving cans of Underwood wine, which I’m suspicious of but have yet to try. Le Grand Courtage, the house rosé ($7), is made in France by a Californian who made too much money and decided that making wine would be a fun hobby, my server informs me. It’s very light and so effervescent it’s almost like drinking fizzy water. And I love fizzy water.
Oh, and about the food. The chef’s charcuterie board ($16), a rotating selection of three meats, three cheeses and a selection of spreads, olives and pickles served with crostini is a must-order. It is, understandably, the star of the show at a restaurant called Salt and Board. On my most recent visit, me and my hungry companions devoured a selection that included a washed rind cow’s cheese, a wine-soaked goat cheese, smoked pork loin sliced paper-thin, a housemade bacon jam and an apricot mustard that I would put on just about anything that needed a sweet-spicy kick. What can I say? It was all delicious. The washed rind cheese was soft and had a beautiful fatty, smooth taste. The pork loin was smoky and subtle. We cleaned the whole board off.
The menu goes beyond just charcuterie, though. There’s also salads, toasts and pressed sandwiches, including the satisfyingly umami mushroom paté toast ($11), which combines shitake and crimini mushrooms with caramelized onions and black garlic oil on top of four crispy toast points, all topped with a gloriously soft poached egg. I don’t know what witchcraft they use to make that poached egg so perfect, but I sure wish they’d share the secret with me. All the toasts and sandwiches come with a small side salad of locally-grown greens topped with a tangy vinaigrette.
If I could lodge a formal request, it would be that they include a couple cheaper options on the menu to show a little awareness of the space they occupy and the people who live there. My reservations about the come-up of my neighborhood notwithstanding, though, Salt and Board will definitely be getting some of my paycheck. Because at the end of the day I love good food and drink, and they have both in spades.
Hours: Mon-Sat 11am-11pm
115 Harvard Dr. SE
Vibe: Khaki casual. The servers dress nice but you don’t have to.
Alibi recommends: Chef’s choice board, mushroom paté toast and Le Grand Courtage rosé