Everyone’s talking about Salt of the Earth in Fennville, Michigan, where The Journeyman used to be. So tonight I went for dinner with Bill to try it out.
My review is mixed. I’m not here to judge the place like a restaurant reviewer would. I’ll leave that up to the pros. Instead, I focused only on the food.
Again, it’s the dilemma of eating out. Peruse the menu and you’ll notice lots of meat but minimal descriptions indicating its origin or whether it was grassfed. So I asked our server for more details and was told that the restaurant procures local “natural” meats, meaning no antibiotics or hormones. That’s not bad, but I’d sure love to see grassfed options.
You might ask, “Why don’t you have one of their vegetarian or fish dishes?”, which is what I usually do when I go out because it’s rare to find grassfed meat on a menu in West Michigan. In this case, the veggie dishes were either cheese-heavy or mushroom-heavy. I just can’t eat a ton of cheese, like what’s in their Three Cheese Cavatappi pasta. As for mushrooms, please read The Year of Food, which explains my somewhat persnickety palate. There was a salmon steak on the menu but it had bacon in it (grassfed, I doubt).
I began to lean toward the meat, ironically, because of the side dishes: root vegetables with the Braised Pork Shoulder or oven roasted shallot brown butter potato puree with the Grilled Hanger Steak. The Wood Fired All Natural Chicken was another option I toiled over.
In the end, I went for the Grilled Hanger Steak and Bill got the Braised Pork Shoulder.
The produce, I was told, is from local farmers, including Eaters’ Guild. Since you get to choose a side dish with your meal, we got the Fried Brussel Sprouts (also with bacon, according to the menu but not visible in the dish) and Seasonal Vegetables. I have to say the Fried Brussel Sprouts were the best thing we ordered.
So here’s my synopsis: Salt of the Earth is definitely a decent restaurant with a nice variety of options on the menu. I was swayed to eat “natural” beef, which still means from the feedlot, which goes against my principles. See how hard this is? My hope is that restaurants everywhere, including Salt of the Earth, start seeing the value of grassfed meats, eggs, and dairy products and then proudly display this information on their menus.