On my first visit to Salty Farms, the server set a plate of olive oil with an artful swirl of balsamic vinegar, a handful of roasted garlic cloves and a loaf of bread in front of me and I knew I was probably going to want to eat there every day. I could survive on that combo. But then I got my dinner and I swooned. I made weird pleasure-moan-like noises. I might have cried a little. The hyperbole is appropriate, I promise.
The only appetizer I’ve thus far had is the Poke Tuna: cubed Yellowfin Ahi tuna tossed with a sweet onion sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds and sliced green onions. It’s served on a bed of ice with ponzu and is plenty for a couple people to share or as an entree for one. It’s divine, and has supplanted the little cups of poke you can get at the fish stands at Pike Place Market in Seattle as the best I’ve had.
At a lunchtime visit, I gobbled a shrimp sandwich. Actually, I’ve done that at least twice. Grilled shrimp on a toasted bun with lettuce and, in a nice touch, balsamic-marinated tomatoes. The Meyer lemon tartar sauce is stellar. Sandwiches are served with a side, but you won’t find French fries here—there’s no fryer. I had the crispy fingerling potatoes with lavender and rosemary, and they are a far superior accompaniment than fries. The sandwich is a bit of a mess to eat but I didn’t care. It’s so good. If shrimp isn’t your thing, choose mahi, yellowfin tuna, cod, salmon or crab cakes.
All of the entrees and specials are appealing, but I went with a nice piece of grouper with the Old Ormond Pier seasoning blend, with smashed potatoes and seared heirloom carrots as sides. You’re going to have to excuse me because I’m going to fawn a bit. This was the best piece of grouper I’ve ever eaten. Ever, in my 48 years of ordering grouper at every opportunity. Delicate, cooked rare, perfectly seasoned. The smashed potatoes are rich without being heavy. The carrots, firm and flavorful and sprinkled with Herbs de Provence.
For dessert, I chose the key lime pie over the chocolate lava cake, based purely on overhearing the people at an adjacent table raving about it.
This isn’t so much pie as it is a sort of key lime tiramisu. Layers of sponge soaked with tangy-sweet lime flavor alternated with delicate sweet cream, sprinkled with black sea salt to cut the sweetness a bit. This is the key lime pie they serve in heaven.
You wouldn’t expect this level of cooking at a place with such a casual vibe, but there it is, right on A1A in a strip mall at 1452 Ocean Shore Boulevard in Ormond Beach. They’re open from 11 am-8 pm Tuesday through Saturday. If you want to do your own cooking (I don’t know why you would but some people are like that), you can buy fresh fish right out of their case and take it home (or they’ll cook it for you and you can take it to go). They’ve got live music on most Friday and Saturday nights.
Look, friends. I have a purely selfish favor to ask. I’m headed back north for the summer and I need you fine people, to regularly patronize this locally-owned casual joint with the case-to-kitchen, fresh and healthy and beautifully prepared food on a regular basis because the restaurant business is hard but they’re doing it right and we need to keep them around for a long time.