SaltAir Seafood Kitchen, a Clark Cooper Concepts (Ibiza, Brasserie 19, Punk's Simple Southern Foods) announced last fall a projected summer opening date for the seafood-centric concept, staying on course the restaurant opened last week to positive reviews. Replacing Brio Tuscan Grille and Pesce before it, SaltAir is the duo's first seafood-centric concept, Chef Brandi Keys is at the restaurant's helm.
Staying true to name, a metal sign above the front entrance of the restaurant looks battered and weathered by the ocean air. Inside, the 9,000 sq.ft. space feels intimate with a casual elegance, like a modern Malibu beach house in all neutral tones. In the main dining room light fixtures are mixed as either sleek wood geometric pieces or larger industrial metal fixtures reminiscent of flood lights hanging above, while the floors are a light colored wood with carpeting spaced throughout.
The focal point in the main room is definitely the large bar, complete with a 28 seat raw bar station and a cement side with the restaurant's name engraved into the block. A Serge Mouille chandelier hangs above corner seating with leather booths near the front dining room, while an outside patio with black shutters enclosing the space provides a buffer between diner and busy Upper Kirby. Stringed patio lights hang above on the outside patio, with light-colored wood cafe chairs and dark colored small tables. Off the side main dining room is a sunroom with a much more intimate and casual vibe. The space is bright with floor-to-ceiling windows and decorated with colorful beach-themed photos. Hanging above are circular wooden light fixtures with a reed-like resemblance to make-shift fishing baskets.
In short, SaltAir is a beautiful space owing the interior design to the talented Julie McGarr. The restaurant is transportive, taking patrons to a part of the country with slightly more temperate weather. It's like stepping into a mid-century Malibu cottage, but without the pricey airfare.
We've yet to try the food, but have high-hopes for the Clark Cooper Concept.