Saltyard—the small plates restaurant by La Grotta managing partner Christian Favalli and his wife, Kristy Jones-Favalli—is scheduled to open in the coming weeks in the Brookwood building on Peachtree Street. Executive chef and partner Nick Leahy shares his inspirations for the restaurant’s menu and more.
What’s the inspiration for the food at Saltyard?
Both Kristy and Christian and my wife and I don’t usually order main dishes. We get a bunch of appetizers and share them around. It’s a more social way to eat. This small plate tradition is found all around the world—in Spain, Italy, Latin America. We’re sticking with that idea in that people can order different waves of food; start with three, and then look at the menu again and order another three. It’s a globally inspired take on small plates, using local and regional ingredients.
How big are these small plates?
At Pura Vida, my wife and I would order six to eight items. Saltyard should be similar; with our portions being perhaps a little more generous than theirs.
What menu items are you most excited about?
We’re doing a play on scotch eggs from London—a farm egg wrapped in sausage and breaded in panko—a signature English dish. I just spent a year in London and there are not too many English dishes that are great. I pretty much like an egg on top of everything.
We’re doing a chicken liver parfait. I’m a big fan of charcuterie and terrine. Our Sweetwater-braised chicken thigh with polenta has gotten good feedback at some of the pop-ups. We’re also doing a British chocolate “nemesis" cake. It’s very rich and will have some seasonal citrus, like blood orange, for a nice end to the meal.
How does your previous Atlanta restaurant experience come into play at Saltyard?
The technique. I was at Food Studio for almost four years working under Chip Ulbrich. He really taught me the way to build flavors. He has a restrained style and showed me how to use three or four flavors that really go well together on a plate—not 34.
I think chefs always draw some style and use of ingredients from each restaurant they’ve worked at. I’m doing a local Georgia shrimp dish that’s a play on the Worchester shrimp from Parish, but lighter for summer eating. At Pacific Kitchen I did a lot of ceviches and crudos. At Saltyard there’s whole section of the menu that’s raw. I love raw.
How often will the Saltyard menu change?
We’ll do a full change four times a year, plus mid-season tweaks.
Will you be interacting with the diners at all or will you stay in the kitchen?
When you walk in the front door of the restaurant, you basically look into the expo line, so I’ll have plenty of interaction with the diners. For people who want to be a bit closer, there’s the chef’s table with six to eight seats. It’s nothing fancy but maybe they’ll get lucky and score a free small plate or something. This gives me a chance to get feedback on the food and build relationships with customers.
Classic Gruyere Gougeres, Smoked Salt Whipped Butter
Seasonal Radishes, butter, fleur de sel
Local Pork Belly Cracklins, Lime, Chili
Lentil Fritters, Zatar Crema
Mixed Marinated Olives
a)Roasted Garlic & Basil Puree, Sliced Egg, White Anchovy
b)Fig, Blue Cheese, & Local Honey
c)Marinated Roasted Peppers, Roasted Garlic Aioli, Crispy Prosciutto d)White Bean Puree, Spicy Chile Salami, Parsley
Ahi Tuna Carpaccio, Lemon-Caper Vinaigrette, Crispy Shallots
Raw Oysters on the 1/2 shell, Srirachi Mignonette
Classic German Steak Tartare, Quail Egg, White Anchovy
Scallop Crudo, Orange, Pistachio, Mint, Chili
Ceviche of the day, Crispy Tortillas
House Cured Salmon Chips, Lemon-Dill Mascarpone, Salmon Roe
Golden Beet Carpaccio, Green Apple, Fennel, Curry Vinaigrette
Classic Patatas Bravas
Mushrooms a la Greque
Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Lemon, Anchovy
Roasted Mixed Cauliflower, Chili, Thyme, Lemon
Blistered Green Beans, Bacon, Ginger, Cider Reduction
Raw Thai Salad, Soy-Lime Dressing, Soy Peanuts
Raw Kale Salad, Buttermilk Dressing, Candied Peanuts, Marinated Onions
Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho, mirepoix
Grilled Asparagus & Scallion, Poached Egg, Lemon Zest, Parmesan
Summer Arugula Salad, Grapefruit, Granny Smith, Pecorino, Citrus Oil
Classic Tuna Nicoise
Flat Creek Lodge Blue, Fig Chutney
Charleston River Battery “Brie”, Pickled Strawberry Thomasville Tomme, Spiced Honey Peanuts
Greendale Farm Sassy Sweetmilk, Green Tomato Chutney Olli Proscuitto, Marinated Melon
Pine St. Mkt. Guanciale, Pickled Mirepoix
House Cured Duck Ham, Cider Braised Pineapple
House Made Smoked Sausage, Quick Kraut
Zoes Ghost Chili Salami, Sweet & Sour Cucumber
Chicken Liver Parfait, marinated fennel, citrus marmalade
Housemade Ricotta Gnocchi, roasted mushrooms, parmesan brodo
Shrimp pil-pil, mini baguettes
Crispy oysters, classic escabeche, spicy aioli
Burrata, heirloom tomatoes, anchovies
Roasted mushroom, housemade sausage, brandy cream, brioche
Grilled octopus, crispy potatoes, red onion, cilantro
Classic Albondigas, smoked almond romesco, pecorino
Grilled Lamb Pinchos, Lemon-Chick Pea Puree, herbs
Scotch Quail Eggs, Pepper Jelly, Chives
Lemon & Ale Braised Chicken Thighs, Parmesan Polenta, Grilled Asparagus
Hangar Steak "Frites", Housemade Steak Sauce, Arugula Salad
Pan Roasted Georgia Trout, Fingerlings, Buttered English Peas, Tarragon Nage
Housemade Provencal Duck Confit, Beluga Lentils, Celery Leaf Salad, Chicken Jus
Chocolate "Nemesis" Cake, Seasonal Citrus
Ricotta Zeppolis, Sauce Trio
Pistachio Semi-Freddo, Chocolate, Cherries
Meyer Lemon-Polenta Cake, Honey Ice Cream
Summer Berrry-Ginger Parfait, Mascarpone, Amaretti Cookies