I’m back with my regular BTS thanks to Centennial Bank and this time I took my tastebuds and fellow food lover and Local Pulse Founder, Doug Jolly, to Salt on Pensacola Beach.
Salt is inspired by Mediterranean flavors and the menu is stacked with plenty of seafood options complimenting the gulf front location. Every dish is created from scratch using the freshest, most flavorful ingredients available. The ingredients that are attainable and practical are what drive the dish, not the other way around. Locally sourced seafood, house made sauces and the freshest vegetables are the star players in every dish.
When we arrived, I was immediately taken back by the transformation of the new bar, previously H20. Located inside the Hilton, the updated, inviting space feels warm and relaxing, but upscale and refined at the same time. Exposed coastal wood and warm lighting line the ceiling and cozy, comfortable booths wrap around the bar and restaurant.
Manny Rodriguez, Corporate Director of Food and Beverage for Innisfree Hotels, greeted us on arrival before showing us around and giving us some background information on the restaurant concept and what we would be preparing that day.
The dish we prepared is called Arroz a la Marinera, similar to paella, but more fun and more flavorful. Head Chef Humberto Mendez and Manny welcomed me back to the kitchen and we got started. This plate of food is overflowing with seafood including Gulf shrimp, calamari, mussels and scallops and is even cooked in a seafood broth to really bring the flavors to light.
While the main dish simmered, Doug and I posted up at the new bar to try some of the fresh libations that are new to the cocktail menu. We tried the Salt of the Earth cocktail featuring a fresh beetroot juice base and a black salt garnish down and a refreshing Italian Job, made with limoncello and Rosé. Their cocktail menu especially stands out because along with premium alcoholic cocktails, they offer low ABV drinks and mocktail options as well.
After relaxing at the bar we made our way over to a booth in the restaurant to enjoy the kitchen’s creations. Manny and Humberto surprised us with an appetizer of a braised octopus tentacle — a highlight on the appetizer menu served with house made tzatziki and beet potato puree. You’ll be immediately transported to the Mediterranean coast with this dish.
For the main course Manny brought us the Arroz a la Marinera that Chef Mendez and I prepared. From presentation to consumption, there is no lack of beauty and delicacy on this plate. Insider tip, if you’re ordering this for the first time, compliment it with a shot sherry wine to really enhance all the flavors.
It was an absolute honor to meet culinary experts Manny and Humberto, but even more so to be invited back into the kitchen. Their talents, passion and energy are reflected in the food and I look forward to enjoying more meals with friends and family at Pensacola’s newest beachside restaurant. Welcome to the neighborhood, Salt!
Watch my full Behind the Scenes video above or on @localpulsepensacola & @saltpensacolabeach Instagram accounts.