Lunch at Salt’s Cure, Los Angeles

In LA, trends matter. Sometimes that’s not to our advantage, but in the case of Salt’s Cure the trend works: it’s perfectly in synch with its times.

Salt’s Cure’s chefs used to work at Hungry Cat, Hollywood’s restaurant of the moment a few years ago and still a formidable force (it just opened up a second branch by the beach in Santa Monica). Salt’s Cure’s specialties, house made charcuterie and artisinal California cheeses, are totally 2011 (it also serves a short list of burgers, chops and shellfish for dinner). Its unfussy, post-industrial decor and workmanlike but friendly service are just right for these minimalist times. And, it posts its daily changing chalkboard menu on Facebook; if that’s not of the moment…

The Bookworm sandwich

A friend and I enjoyed some standard-setting sandwiches over a busy lunch. The bookworm was hearty, crusty bread filled with warm tasso ham, roasted kale and Toma, a soft Swiss cheese made by Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. in northern California. Served on a wooden cutting board, it was as hearty as it sounds, enhanced by a mustard so elemental that I noticed barely more than the seeds. We were still lingering over a salad of romaine, apple, red onion, walnuts and Point Reyes blue cheese when the sandwich arrived (we figured we needed some greens), yet when we cut into the sandwich several minutes later it was still steaming. And why had I never thought to put roasted kale on sandwiches? (It’s been on every sandwich I’ve made since.)

Blackened tuna sandwich

We also tried the blackened tuna sandwich, whose homemade tartar sauce set standards – thanks to those mustard seeds. I’m normally not a fan of spongy white-flour bread, but it was a wise choice for this sandwich, letting the rest of the flavors shine.

Salt’s Cure’s a small place – a dozen or so modern tables and a counter lined with mason jars of said mustard seeds plus accompaniments like pickles. And talk about simplicity in complicated times: the restaurant’s water arrived in a bottle that I could swear I once saw holding salad dressing at Smart & Final.