While it’s a little out of the way for a midday meal during the workweek, BlackSalt offers one of the best lunch deals in the District. For $18, diners can choose three items from four categories: a starter, entree, dessert, and an alcoholic beverage. For just $5 more, diners can create their own four-course meal.
We had heard about this special via Metrocurean as we have been dying to try Jeff Black’s standout seafood restaurant for what seems like an eternity. Rachel and I decided to head over last Friday since we both had the day off and wanted to take advantage of this excellent special.
We have always heard about their fish market, which is situated in front of the house, but were taken aback by not only what BlackSalt sold, but by how fresh everything looked. From salmon to oysters to tuna cakes, one wouldn’t typically expect a fish market in the quaint Palisades neighborhood, especially one with such an impressive selection. While we held off on buying fresh fish that day (prices aren’t for the faint of heart), we’ll certainly be back for those tuna cakes.
We made our way towards the dining room in the back and looked over the menu. Both Rachel and I opted to skip dessert and instead focus on the appetizer, entrée, and drink (of course!).
Rachel got a glass of sparkling wine, baby arugula salad, and the cornmeal crusted tilapia sandwich. The salad came with lemongrass-almond vinaigrette, feta, and dried cranberries. The salad wasn’t terribly inventive, but she loves that particular combination and it was a great start to the meal.
Brett ordered a glass of the white wine, the local vegetable salad, and the wood-grilled big eye tuna sandwich. We actually wound up splitting our sandwiches so we each could have a half of one another’s.
The tilapia was crispy on the outside but incredibly tender and flaky inside. It tasted like it was flash-fried which pleasantly made the sandwich not too heavy. It arrived on toasted ciabatta with avocado and pickled red onions. Rachel’s sole complaint was that the ciabatta was a little too tough when biting into the sandwich, and that the fish didn’t really need the bread in order for it to shine.
Meanwhile, the tuna sandwich was excellent. Prepared on housemade focaccia and dressed with olive persillade and smoked tuna tapenade, the big eye was cooked to (at least in my opinion) perfection. The kitchen hit that sweet spot between rare and medium rare, and the quality of the fish itself was first-rate.
While I enjoyed persillade and tapenade, I felt that it was a little excessive as it detracted from the fish and nearly masked its flavor. The bread was able to withstand the dressing as it didn’t get too soggy, but I think I preferred Rachel’s tilapia if I had to choose between the two sandwiches.
Both sandwiches also came with a side of generous portion of highly addictive house made potato chips. While we could have added dessert to one of our meals for five dollars, we instead bought a homemade chocolate chip cookie from the market for a buck. It was well worth the money spent as the entire cookie was soft and gooey and was a nice ending to a fabulous meal.
We can’t recommend BlackSalt’s Lunch Break enough. For the money, it’s seriously one of the best deals you’ll find in the city, period. The quality of the food is beyond fresh, the service is attentive, and the atmosphere is tranquil given the neighborhood surroundings. It’s well worth the trip.