J. works in the same plaza where Rumba Island Grill and Salt Rock Tavern are over in Oldsmar, so we have been big fans since it first opened a few years ago. Unfortunately for me, he often goes for lunch or grabs drinks after work, so I was ecstatic when we met one of my best friends for dinner there a few weeks ago.
Salt Rock definitely gives off that dark tavern atmosphere with darker lighting, wood paneling, and tucked away booths aside high top tables. There is a large bar in the center of the restaurant with white brick back wall, wood beams, and industrial looking steel bar top. It’s the perfect kind of atmosphere to come relax and get away after a long week of work. They also have a large outdoor bar and a few patio tables that are great to sit at when the weather is nicer!
We got seated in one of their larger booths that let us feel a little more tucked away to catch up and have personal conversations. Our waitress was extremely attentive and made sure she came over quickly to get our drink orders before happy hour ended (P.S. they have some great happy hour deals on both drinks and food!). They have a diverse cocktail menu made with lots of local, fresh ingredients, as well as a great selection of craft beers. I went for a mango cider they had on their rotating tap list that was sweet and refreshing.
We started off with their tavern buffalo chicken dip, served hot with tavern chips. This was the type of hot, bubbling, ooey gooey kind of dip you always want. It was very creamy, not overly spicy, and had large chunks of shredded chicken. The chips were also hot and crisp and the perfect thickness to get a big scoop of dip without breaking.
For my meal, I got the Southernmost Point grouper. The grouper was topped with fried green tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, jumbo lump crabmeat and hollandaise, and was served with white stone ground cheddar grits and some sauteed veggies. This took me back to my trip to Key West with the fresh grouper and fried green tomato. Everything paired perfectly together and there was a great ratio to be able to get a bite of everything with every bite. The fish was cooked well, and the fried green tomato kept its crisp exterior. The grits as a side was nice with the hollandaise (reminded me a bit of brunch!) and were a nice consistency.
J. got the Parmesan encrusted mahi served with herb & bacon butter. He subbed his grits for their garlic mashed potatoes. While he wouldn’t share his mashed potatoes (I guess they were just that good!), the mahi was cooked well and the Parmesan crust gave it a super crunchy exterior that was very nice. I think this would also make a great sandwich!
Their menu is a nice mix of classic favorites like burgers, sandwiches, and salads, all with a twist. And as the “salt” part of their name suggests, they do have some great fresh fish options. Oh – and they have Sunday brunch! Good food, good service, you really can’t go wrong.