Sea Salt 2512 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley (510) 883-1720
Haig and Cindy Krikorian, owners of Lalime’s, Fonda, and the recently opened T-Rex Barbeque, keep thinking of new ways to capture foodies’ hearts. Last summer, they hit East Bay diners with a wonderful surprise: Sea Salt, a seafood restaurant that has already developed a loyal following.
It’s easy to see why people love it. With chef Anthony Paone at the helm, each dish achieves simplicity, seasonality, and flavor. Plump, sweet clams, cubed potatoes, cream, and smoky bacon mingle in the homey clam chowder. Pan-roasted wild salmon, cooked to a perfect medium rare, is accompanied by a hearty spoonful of olive oil–braised artichokes. We’re still savoring the memory of our favorite dish from the summer menu: a cleanly fried soft-shell crab resting on a bed of sweet corn and topped with a drizzle of green goddess dressing.
The narrow, brick-walled dining room, which previously housed Cafe Talulah, has large, street-facing windows, a sleek, polished-concrete entryway bar, and an open kitchen in the back.
This is a restaurant for fish lovers, as only desserts and a few salads don’t feature seafood. At your meal’s end, zippy desserts, such as lime frozen yogurt served with crisp tuile, cleanse the palate. The restaurant takes reservations only for six or more, and the wait can get long, so plan on a glass of wine or two at the bar before being seated. Lunch and dinner daily. $$$.