SALMON & BEAR will make my top ten venues of 2016. This venue is ALL me. I loved everything about it and am taking the parents back in two weeks to show it off to them. They also hold a dear spot in my heart as they saved my livelihood and job. I walked out leaving behind my backpack with my work and my personal laptops in said backpack. I did not realise until the following morning when heading off to work. Freaking out, I was calling their PR company at 630am. The chef had stored the bag in the kitchen and everything was as I left it. Incomparable relief flooded me. But that being said – if the food was crap this review would reflect as such – lucky for all the food was sensational.
SALMON & BEAR VENUE:
SALMON & BEAR is located on King St Newtown, across from the cinema and back a bit – opposite T2. It has this decor that screams hipster lumberjack from North America. It needed a roaring fire, more stuffed animal heads and some disabled shotguns hanging from the walls up high. I felt as though out the front door was a salmon-filled river roaring as opposed to the polluted metal river of cars.
The venue is incredibly welcoming, relaxing and lacking in any form of pretension or frills. The staff were young and fantastic and suggested most of the food we ate. They serve some fantastic local boutique beers and offer some decent wine. They have vegetarian alternates on the POKÉ dishes and to be honest if I was a vegetarian I would just order a few of the sides – all superb. Plus they also have a kid’s section on the menu and kids will LOVE this place – as will my mum. There are so many little shelves, nooks and crannies with things to admire, I got trucker cap envy.
The only thing I did not love was that you have to go to the counter to order. It just seemed odd when the staff came to the table anyways to ask us what we thought of the menu. But if my only gripe is about walking to a counter then I need to STFU.
SALMON & BEAR MENU:
The menu is how I imagine a Canadian rockies truck-stop (if there is a thing). There is no awkwardness in selecting what to eat, it is simple and straight forward. And it follows Canada’s love and embracement for multiculturalism. While a Canadian feel, there is a hint of Mexican, Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese and a big hug to Australian. You can order Fish Burgers, Tacos, also a couple of Classics. There is the must-have dishes of Grizzly Plates, Pokés, Cub’s Menu (self explanatory) and then Bear Treats (Desserts).
As much s I am a burger person I just couldn’t go past the Grizzly Plates. Pick your fish – and when in a place called SALMON & BEAR – the fish picked itself. You then pick your sauce and finally one of the sides. You can add extra sides for minimal cost. All fish is cooked in a Mibrasa Charcoal Oven and it tasted as though it could have been cooked over an open fire.
The tacos the waiter raved about but we went a POKÉ instead. This is a Hawaiian inspired sushi salad – again we went with salmon. Raw cured salmon in soy and sesame dressing served with corn salsa and avocado on a coconut basmati rice. Divine! Any of the poké dishes can have the seafood replaced with tofu options.
SALT & PEPPER SQUID:
Our waiter said this was one of his favourites and it did not disappoint. I loved it was little calamari rings lightly cooked and they fell apart in your mouth. The light seasoning of salt and pepper perfectly balanced with the ponzu dipping sauce. I will be eating this again.
There are ten sides to select from and while we only had two they all sounded and looked fantastic. We kind of tried four of them as the Corn Salsa and Coconut rice came with the poké. Chips and mash we always eat however the sweet potato fries were delicious and the corn cob is a MUST ORDER dish. I can’t wait to have this corn again on my return. I am also keen to try out the Asian Greens and their Slaw – they both sound promising.
THE GRIZZLY PLATE:
I mention most of this up the top but here it is (below). I got the Salmon with the Yoghurt and Dill sauce and the Corn on the cob. And to be honest I will be eating this exact dish on my return – it was too good to pass over. The fish choices are Ora King Salmon, Blue Eyed Cod, Barramundi (I have an inkling this is what mum will order), Tuna or their catch of the day. My salmon was flawless in the cooking and the dill and yoghurt was perfection in complimenting condiments.
Off on a tangent I also need to try their Crispy Prawn and Corn tacos – just the sound of it makes me dribble a bit.
It is closer to diner than fine dining but the food, the venue, the ambience and the staff all make this one of my rare perfect 5s for 2016. I can’t think of anything better than kicking back with boutique beers, some perfectly cooked salmon and corn on the cob. BRAVO!!
*** Special thanks to Clive Morley from I AM STRATEGIST for inviting me to this marvel. ***
Salmon & Bear Deets:
PH: (02) 8317 4368
BOOKINGS: Only for groups of 10+
BAR: Yes – limited, try the craft beers
VEGETARIAN OPTIONS: Yes
KID FRIENDLY: Definitely
Monday to Thursday 5:30–10pm
Friday & Saturday 12-4pm & 5:30pm-late
Sunday 12-4pm & 5:30-10pm
*** JK (and any guests of Spooning Australia) were invited guests of the establishment. However, as always, if it was shite I would happily tell you as such.