One year ago, Edmonds welcomed its first ever oyster bar and steak house. Before Salt & Iron’s grand opening, we reported on its development and interviewed co-owner and executive chef Shubert Ho. We’ve looked forward to reviewing it ever since.

Salt & Iron is a study in contrasts, from its high quality offerings from land and sea to the possibilities for varied dining experiences. As a whole, the furnishings have a distinctly Pacific Northwest feel, but with a nod to French décor. Its dining room offers an elegant, sophisticated atmosphere for a quiet meal with a significant other or several companions. It seems Salt & Iron has attained that elusive balance between fine dining destination and relaxed, inviting neighborhood restaurant.

It’s worth dressing up and driving to, and yet, I would feel comfortable walking in after an afternoon shopping in Edmonds’ historic downtown.

It’s exactly what Ho said he and his business partner Andrew Leckie set out to achieve. This versatility was enhanced by Salt & Iron’s recent expansion. They were surprised to double their business plan within months when an adjacent, corner space unexpectedly became available on Main and Fourth. The expansion created a slight separation between the bustling bar and the quieter, more traditional dining room. It also allowed for an exceptional private dining space for hosting family style dinners or passed cocktails and appetizers. In all, the restaurant now seats up to 100 diners.

We visited on a recent Saturday night, and enjoyed an elevated dining experience, complete with low lighting, candles, and white tablecloths. Yet, I could see that the adjacent bar was warm, cheery, and full of energy. Our server was kind and skilled, and was happy to make suggestions, including from the line up of signature craft cocktails and wine list.

For starters, we tried the Oysters Gratin. It was just the thing to whet our appetites on a cold, rainy night. Each mouthwatering bite offered a taste of fresh, salty, Pacific oysters with grana Padano, which was baked to a golden brown, and topped with herb butter and served with fresh lemon. Salt & Iron truly excels at serving oysters. Ho reported that they sell as many as 9,000 oysters each month.

I was craving scallops, so I selected the Cajun Seared Shrimp and Scallops from the “Salt” portion of the menu. They were succulent, seared to perfection, and served atop a risotto made from tomato fennel broth and seasoned with red chili flakes and garnished with parmesan and watermelon radish. It had just enough of a kick to it, but not so much that it lost the complexity of the other flavors in its spiciness. Of course, we also had to try to the New York Strip steak, and it did not disappoint. It was tender and so flavorful. Served with crispy onions, and a mushroom risotto, it was satisfying and filling to be sure, and the colorful citrus salad enlivened the plate.

The dessert menu entices with such delicacies as a blood orange pear tarte tatin, with pears, blood orange caramel, sweetened goat cheese and a candied blood orange wheel, or a pistachio semifreddo with meyer lemon curd, brûlée grapefruit segments, pistachio dust, and grapefruit paste.

From the prime cuts of meat to the seafood, Ho looks for superior taste at a reasonable price. “We try to source only the best-tasting items,” he said, “It has to be affordable and delicious.”

When asked about his favorite menu item, Ho doesn’t hesitate for an answer. It’s hands down the chicken wings. “If you take me anywhere with chicken wings, I’m the first to order and the last to finish,” he said. And, indeed, Buffalo chicken wings make an appearance on the Happy Hour menu. To me,

this is further proof of the wide range of dining experiences possible at Salt & Iron — all of them satisfying, all of them exactly what Edmonds has been missing. I’m already looking forward to summer and enjoying Salt & Iron’s sidewalk seating.

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"Salt & Iron is a study in contrasts, from its high quality offerings from land and sea to the possibilities for varied dining experiences. "