I have a chronic weakness for “Comfort Food,” but I have an emotional moment with my food when Comfort Food is redefined, yet prepared with traditional ingredients.
I know, it’s an odd way to begin a Dining Review, but it’s the only way I know how to begin this review. I’ll return to this train of thought.
So Why the Salty Sow?
I first learned of the Salty Sow (tagline “american gastropub”) in Phoenix roughly eight months ago, which is odd considering that it generally only takes a few weeks for me to hear about a great new Phoenix restaurant. The reason it appears is that the restaurant is located in what is best described as a vestigial bastion of – some shuttered and some operating – franchised and corporate mainstay restaurants such as Outback Steakhouse and Red Lobster.
Simply put, it was inconceivable that a sophisticated, yet unknown, gastropub with would open, let alone flourish in that part of Phoenix. Yet, it does, and very much so, which is a testament to the quality with which the Salty Sow operates – from atmosphere, story, commitment to its craft, service, and obviously, the quality, diversity and creativity of its food and beverage offerings.
Although I’m not a professional dining reviewer, I do my best whenever possible to adhere to the “three visit” rule before authoring a review. It’s not always possible since I travel a great deal, but I make every effort when the restaurant is Arizona-based.
My Visits to the Salty Sow
This was my third visit to the Salty Sow, and it was my third exemplary visit. I adore the menu (click here to view), and have enjoyed something different each visit. My first visit, I sat at the bar and enjoyed the Truffled Deviled Eggs with Salty Sow Bacon, and the Salty Sow Charcuterie & Cheese Board.
My second visit my wife and I dined with friends, and I devoured the Pork Belly entree – slow cooked, stone ground white corn cheese grits, apple, Salty Sow bacon-frisee salad, and grain mustard jus. Holy wow.
And this past visit was also with my wife and two friends. We started with the Duck Fat Fries, topped with a 110-minute Fried Egg and a cold Bearnaise. Spectacular, especially the way the yolk floods the fries and mixes with the Bearnaise.
I asked the server for her favorite dish and she noted without hesitation, the Slow-Cooked Beef Shoulder – Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, glazed root vegetables, and a Fried Egg – which is what I ordered. The dish is served in a large metal sauce pan, which I really liked. Very different.
In my opening, I mentioned my love for “Comfort Food.” This dish is a craft, cultured, creative and deconstructed version of all of the comfort food ingredients I so dearly love, and all cooked to perfection. Really, I can’t rave enough about this dish. It tastes like a gifted chef waved a wand over my childhood pot roast, topped it with a scrumptious fried egg, left it in the pan, and served it to my adult self. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve had at the Salty Sow, but I will order this dish over, and over, and over again.
Other Salty Sow Dishes
There are also a number of additional items, including varied daily and weekly specials:
As you can see, these people know their food – variety, creativity, and classical meals.
I’d like to also thank the Salty Sow and their Public Relations company for sending to me – and for granting me permission to use – these professional food images.
In terms of the environment, I really enjoy the feel, the energy, and the well-spaced environment of the restaurant. It’s just light enough to see people, but not overly so. I’ve visited many excellent restaurants where the lighting was a complete nightmare. The Salty Sow understands the importance of lighting, and how the restaurant should feel.
Please take note that there is a second Salty Sow location in Austin, Texas, and that some of these images are of that Texas location. But, you can at the least get the sense of community, communication, and warmth that the Salty Sow strives to develop in its environment and atmosphere. It just feels good inside.
I would also like to compliment the superlative service each of my three visits. This can be tricky because there are many people touching or affecting a diner in one visit, so I try to be respectful of that difficulty. The Salty Sow’s staff is friendly, helpful, energetic, and timely.
In all, it’s a true joy to visit a restaurant three times and thoroughly enjoy each of the three dining experiences, especially when I am writing about the best restaurants in Phoenix! I especially enjoy it when there is a new restaurant and a new brand expanding to Phoenix, which is enjoying a valley-wide culinary renaissance. The Salty Sow exemplifies how fresh and creative craft food can wow guests in an approachable and sustainable way; and I for one couldn’t be happier.
Here are the digital touchpoints if you would like to follow the Salty Sow:
Salty Sow: http://www.saltysow.com/
4801 E Cactus Road – Phoenix, Arizona – 602-795-9463