Pittsburgh hasn't seen a restaurant opening as anticipated as Salt of the Earth in a long time. Part of it, of course, is the two year build-up. Part, chef and owner Kevin Sousa's status as Pittsburgh's most exciting chef.
Diners never know quite what he's going to come up with, like his recent announcement that people will be able to buy all-inclusive tickets for a five-course tasting menu at Salt of the Earth.
While Mr. Sousa generally prides himself on his originality, in this case, he readily acknowledges he's borrowing. A few months ago, Grant Achatz, the acclaimed chef behind Alinea in Chicago, announced that all diners will buy tickets to his new project, "Next Restaurant," set to open in Chicago this fall.
Mr. Sousa thought it was a great idea. "It’s a way for us to do tastings without committing to it being a permanent part of the program," he said. "There will probably be one to two items off the menu, but generally it will be exclusive to each group."
Tickets will be available for purchase on the web site, probably starting this Friday, but they cannot be redeemed until after September 15. Diners will make a reservation to "redeem" the ticket, and will be allowed to choose seats anywhere in the restaurant -- upstairs private dining room, downstairs communal tables or the bar, overlooking the kitchen. Normally, the upstairs room will be reservation only and the downstairs will be walk in only.
Mr. Sousa said they would probably suggest the private dining room -- he's thrilled with how it turned out -- but I would bet that many of the takers will want a view of the kitchen.
Tickets for the omnivorous menu will probably be around $85, including wine pairings and tip. The vegetarian option will probably be around $65, and for those who want the menu without wine, less expensive tickets will also be available.
Mr. Sousa expects the restaurant to be open for business before the end of July.