Obsession is a strong word, but it’s really the only way that I can explain my current relationship with Salt & Time. At minimum, a full-service butcher shop and salumeria, and at maximum, one of Austin’s best new restaurants, Salt & Time has quickly made its presence known in the Austin food scene. While I had visited the shop a few times before, listening to owners, Ben Runkle and Bryan Butler, speak at the Austin Food & Wine Festival this year (see more here), really changed my impression of Salt & Time. I had already discovered their incredible Butcher’s Burger, easily my favorite in Austin, but hearing these men discuss the time and patience that it takes to cure meats, as well as their commitment to serving only the highest quality fresh meat and local produce, inspired me to branch out from JUST ordering that mind-bogglingly-great burger upon every visit.
And branch out I did…without exaggeration, since the Austin Food & Wine Festival weekend, I have somehow found my way seated in Salt & Time’s quaint restaurant half of the building literally once per week. I feel like I have been neglecting so many other great restaurants that I have been wanting to try, and yet, when it has come time to decide where I wanted to eat a work lunch, or where I wanted to take friends out for a tasty burger, I/we have ended up at Salt & Time.
Now that I have worked my way through the entire current lunch menu (served Tuesday – Saturday, 11 AM – 3 PM), save for the daily vegetable sandwich (sorry, but if I’m going to a butcher shop, I’m getting meat), I thought that I would share some of my photos of Salt & Time’s various offerings. There was a lengthy period of my life where I never thought to go out for a sandwich, thinking that it would end up being “just a sandwich.” Thankfully, that regrettable period is long behind me, as I have since discovered the simple pleasure of having a carefully crafted sandwich put together using high quality meat, fresh baked bread (Salt & Time uses bread from Moonlight Bakery in Austin), and simple, but flavorful additions such as pickled celery, garlic aioli, or caramelized onions. Clearly, I often now have sandwiches on the brain, which certainly helps to explain my weekly visits.
Roast Beast – Salt & Time’s roast beef sandwich with caramelized onions, pickled celery, and aioli, served on fresh baked ciabatta bread. This sandwich is deceptively great. The meat is tender and succulent, and the rich aioli is the perfect compliment. It has been tough not to order this sandwich every time that I have visited, and it will probably be the first sandwich that I “re-order” now that I’ve gone through the menu.
Cubano – The iconic sandwich featuring slow roasted marinated pork shoulder, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard. As with any sandwich on Salt & Time’s menu, the option to throw an egg on top is available. The Cubano has so much going on with it already, I’m not sure it’s absolutely necessary, but the choice is yours!
Meatball Sub – A new addition, and perhaps the most simple sandwich on the menu, but a worthy lunch option, nonetheless. Tender meatballs are topped with housemade marinara sauce, a sprinkling of pecorino romano cheese, and basil. This definitely helped alleviate some of my recent Italian-food cravings.
Grinder – An Italian sub sandwich using a selection of deli meats from Salt & Time’s bounty. Mortadella, cotto salame, and peperone are topped with provolone cheese, a few fresh basil leaves, and drizzled with just a bit of olive oil and vinegar. This is definitely one of the lighter sandwiches, but it is not certainly not light on flavor. I particularly enjoyed that the meats were not too salty, and the bread was especially soft and light.
Reuben – As a devoted pastrami sandwich addict, as soon as Salt & Time announced that they were promoting the reuben (housemade pastrami, kraut, 1000 island dressing, Swiss cheese, on toasted rye bread) from daily special to permanent menu offering, I jumped at the chance to try it. I was not disappointed in the slightest. This is about as perfect of a reuben sandwich as I have ever had, not dominated by any particular ingredient, as I have found can often be the case with reuben sandwiches…too much meat, or too much kraut, etc. This sandwich was intensely flavored, but perfectly balanced. Highly recommended.
Beyond the lunch menu, no post about Salt & Time would be complete without (again) extolling the virtues of their Butcher’s Burger. Available in a limited quantity (roughly 20 per day on weekdays, 30 on weekends) and on the dinner menu only, the burger is, quite simply, astonishing. I honestly have no idea how the meat is so flavorful, despite my best attempts to pull information from one of the chefs at the Austin Food & Wine Festival. I am sure that it has to do with Salt & Time’s sourcing of their beef from local farms, butchering the meat on-site, and basically, just knowing their meat and how to cook it. Ask your server where your burger came from, and they will tell you. They might even point out the farm on the giant Texas map on the wall.
This is a burger that I, honestly, cherish eating. I take it slow, enjoying each bite. So often I find myself rushing through meals, but I make a concerted effort to pay attention to how much I love this burger. Salt & Time offers a few optional upgrades, including a fried egg, copious amounts of bacon, and pictured below, a smear of n’duja sausage, a spicy, Calabrian salami that is spreadable at room temperature. The n’duja adds spice and a fatty richness to the burger and is also sold by the jar at the shop. Speaking with owner, Ben Runkle, he recommended using the n’duja in pasta sauce, perhaps with scrambled eggs, or on its own with crackers or crostini. All of these things are on my eating-agenda for the near future.
Now that the lunch menu has been conquered…anybody care to join me for dinner?
1912 E 7th St #A
Austin, TX 78702
Friday & Saturday 11am-10pm