WINTER HARBOR — Salt Box restaurant aficionados will travel a little farther to dine this summer, but owner-chef Mike Poirier said the view is worth it.
Poirier has taken over the space formerly occupied by Raven’s Nest at the corner of Main and Newman streets and overlooking Henry Cove.
“It is the same name and the same people,” Poirier said of his dining room and kitchen crew. “We outgrew the last space” in Hancock.
Salt Box opened its doors at the new location on May 25 and offers dinner only, starting at 4:30 p.m. and until close.
Initially, Salt Box is open five days a week and then six days a week in high season.
The menu will include new items and old favorites.
Starters and small plates range from swordfish ceviche with Fiore Sicilian Lemon Oil and white balsamic, to local rope grown mussels simmered in garlic, shallot, white wine, Dijon, cream and fresh thyme as well as wild boar sliders and salt cod fritters.
The charcuterie and cheese plate selections include Seal Cove chèvre; Humboldt Fog Ash chèvre; sheep’s milk manchego cheese; whipped feta and garlic spread; rabbit pate; venison salami; duck prosciutto; house-marinated mushrooms; olive medley; Marcona almonds; black grapes and pickled fiddleheads.
There will be an oyster bar with oysters shucked to order; a variety of salads and an extensive list of entrees, among them rabbit and parsnip pie; lobster mac and cheese; flatiron steak; broiled haddock with herb mascarpone stuffing; homemade pasta with herb-marinated, free-range chicken breast; crispy skin Gulf of Maine salmon and crispy skin duck leg confit.
Poirier, who is living on the top level of the building, said the season will be intense, but is shorter than the months he worked when Salt Box was located on Route 1.
The menu is similar to the one offered at the former location, but now includes steamed lobsters. The menu also will be slightly infused by cooking techniques and flavors Poirier picked up during his recent travels.
Last winter he traveled to Thailand, Myanmar, Hungary, Romania, Italy and the Greek Isles.
“Rome and Greece had the biggest impact on my culinary aspirations. I like tradition as a jumping off point,” he said.
“Budapest is now my favorite city on this planet,” said Poirier. “They have food from every continent and dozens of countries.”
What diners will not see at the new Salt Box is taco night, which was wildly successful in Hancock but which Poirier said took an unusual amount of preparation.
Taco night was offered once a month and regularly sold out, he said.
“It got to the point where it was taking three days of prep to make the tamales by hand, to hand roll each and every tortilla,” Poirier said.
He said he doesn’t mind living above the shop, so to speak, as he did at his former location.
“When you are a chef owner that’s what you do,” Poirier said. “Living on site makes it that much easier.”
He said the building owned by former Burt’s Bees owner Roxanne Quimby is beyond his expectations.
“I’m in love with this building and I am super excited to be here,” he said.
Salt Cod Fritters
1 lb. salt cod, rinsed and soaked in a large volume of cold water for 12 hours, then chopped into ½-inch pieces
1 Yukon Gold potato, chopped in ½-inch pieces
4 bay leaves
4 cups water
Simmer until fish is flaky and potato is tender (about 15-20 minutes). Drain thoroughly and discard bay leaves. Cool completely in refrigerator.
¼ cup all purpose flour
2 cloves garlic minced
One packed teaspoon of curly parsley, minced
½ Tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
Add flour, garlic, pepper and parsley to fish/potato mixture. Scatter the baking soda loosely over the mixture. Mash using gloves (about one minute, some small chunks are OK). Incorporate eggs last. Scoop into fritters using a scoop or measure for 2 tablespoons. Rough edges are good.
Fry in a deep volume of 375 F-degree oil, preferably canola and olive oil, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.