Bobby Flay named it his top breakfast destination in Los Angeles. It’s graced the No. 1 spot on Travel + Leisure’s list of best farm-to-table restaurants in L.A. and earned accolades from goop and Los Angeles Magazine, among others. Our take? In a city of smoke and mirrors, Salt’s Cure lives up to its reputation.
“I’ve never had a beet before,” my husband David’s colleague says as I look at him in disbelief. The man has traveled the world – nevermind that he hails from Charleston, one of America’s great food cities – and he’s never tasted a beet? He grabs a quick sip of David’s deep fuchsia cocktail, an unexpected fusion of beets and bourbon aptly named Six Feet Under.
“I’ll have one of those,” he tells our server, Rachael Costell, and so begins our experience at one of L.A.’s loveliest farm-to-table restaurants.
After a few unsuccessful attempts to order local-ish wine at several other local Hollywood establishments, I wondered why it’s so challenging to get a glass of wine from outside of Napa Valley when L.A. is surrounded by incredible Southern California wineries. I have high hopes for this place, so when I get my hands on the hyper-local menu at Salt’s Cure and Rachael patiently answers every single one of our questions with complete confidence, I know we’ve found an absolute treasure.
One can be forgiven for keeping expectations low when it comes to farm-to-fork dining. In recent years, the concept has become so over-hyped that it’s often regarded as nothing more than a buzzword to justify overpriced, ostentatious menus in gentrified neighborhoods and trendy locales. I once saw a misnomer describing it as “any restaurant that doesn’t use frozen vegetables.” Restaurants with little commitment to and understanding of what it means to truly serve dishes featuring seasonal, locally sourced ingredients slap the words “farm to fork” on their social media and diners flock.
“Restaurants with little commitment to and understanding of what it means to serve dishes featuring seasonal, locally sourced ingredients slap the words “farm to fork” on their social media and diners flock … Salt’s Cure is not that.”
What’s more, some food critics tell us the concept has become so watered down that farm-to-table dining is essentially dead – bring on the next big thing. Others tell us farm-to-table is on the verge of a resurgence as society emerges from the pandemic more interested than ever in understanding where our food comes from. One thing’s certain: intentionality is key to seeking out authentic farm-to-table eateries. Establishments that care about where and how they source their ingredients are few and far between. A good rule of thumb? Look for the names of farms, butchers and locations on a menu and inquire to learn more. Locations not listed? Ask. If the server can’t tell you and the chef isn’t sure either, you’ve probably been duped.
Salt’s Cure is not that.
Salt’s Cure has been around since 2010. Now with three locations in Los Angeles and two in New York, growth has ushered in opportunities to evolve its farm-to-table approach. So much so that Owner and Chef Christopher Phelps is now in New York, working the line with his team to nurture the newest locations with the same care and attention he gave to the West Coast eateries. Salt’s Cure got its start in West Hollywood with a small daily rotating menu – word on the street is that you had to check their Facebook page daily to check out the menu – to a seasonal menu centered around several permanent staples, like the signature oatmeal griddle cakes. What hasn’t changed since its inception is the restaurant’s commitment to sourcing fresh, locally sourced fare based on whatever treasures the culinary team finds at the farmers markets and through its list of local butchers and seafood purveyors.
Our evening culminates with a small smorgasbord of dishes to share: the baked goat cheese with chutney and toast, the sunflower crunch salad, lamb chops with garlic mashed potatoes and mushrooms with herb butter, a bright grapefruit tart for dessert featuring local citrus. It’s delicious, I tell manager Danielle Matthews, who encourages us to return for brunch before we leave town. “Trust me,” she says. “You’ve got to try the oatmeal griddle cakes.”
Chef Jonathan Flores steps out of the kitchen to tell us more about the restaurant’s commitment to working with local farmers, butchers and fishmongers. He raves about the once weekly Hollywood Farmers Market. “It’s tomorrow morning. You’ve got to go,” he says. It’s rare that David and I travel without a full agenda of our own, but the team at Salt’s Cure is so certain of their recommendations that we immediately pivot. A change of plans is in order.
The next morning, after watching the sunrise from the iconic Griffith Observatory, David and I are on a mission. First stop: a walk around the Hollywood Farmers Market (see images above) to work up an appetite. Second stop: Salt’s Cure for brunch. We arrive bearing a small gift: edible flowers from a kind vendor we chatted up. “No idea what you’ll do with these,” I tell Chef Jonathan, “but I’m certain you’ll figure something out.”
Another assortment of dishes to devour at the chef’s recommendation: the famous oatmeal griddle cakes with molasses cinnamon butter, a goliath breakfast sandwich with herb-smoked bacon and, of course, the pork chop of all pork chops. Voted L.A.’s best by the Los Angeles Times and described as a “tour de force,” this pork chop is simmered in a crave-worthy apple butter sauce with brown butter and topped with caramelized onion and crispy rosemary that takes it to the next level.
Everything we devoured at Salt’s Cure was delectable, the atmosphere was on point, service was fabulous and the menu was beyond impressive – but not one of these elements singularly defined our experience. As with any business, a restaurant is only as strong as its people. And the team we met at Salt’s Cure? They made all the difference.
As we hop into the car and head toward the Pacific Coast Highway, I think about what an unexpected experience we discovered in this Hollywood gem.
Turns out Bobby Flay was right.