Before this whole COVID-19 thing took hold, I was on a business trip to New Jersey. I've been out there a few times during the last 12 months, but didn't have a lot of time to get too far away from where I was staying. This last trip, we had an evening where we were not taking out guests, and could go a little further. I asked my colleague if she had ever been to New Hope, Pennsylvania - just about 20 minutes away and over the Delaware River. I went to college in Philly, and my Bucks County friends had taken me to New Hope a few times in the 1990s, so I was interested in revisiting one of my favorite places. My colleague, said, "Nope. Haven't been there, but let's check it out." So off we went!
A big "Thank You" goes out to my college friend Brian, who still lives in Bucks County and recommended this place when I asked him for a suggestion. It was so good - we ate here TWICE!
The Salt House was originally built in 1751 as...you guessed it...a salt house. The winch for the salt blocks is still present on the third floor of this unique structure. The structure has also served as a toll house for Coryell’s Ferry during the Revolutionary War. The building was also, at one point, housed New Hope's library.
The decor feels welcoming but quirky. It has this pre-revolution feel, but with a modern sense of humor: folk art depictions of George Washington, antique library leather furniture and books with British punk-band album covers, irreverent taxidermy. This is an aesthetic that responds to the core of my soul. At night, everything is light by candlelight; during the day light streams through wavy glass windows. Hopefully, you can glean a sense of the place from the photos, but I know they fall short.
The menu features a lot of farm-to-table selections, and is seasonal. The food was incredibly fresh with the integrity of the ingredients shining through. We ate a late dinner here, comprised of shared small plates, and a lunch with a few small plates a their soup and chili. And cocktails. We had a few cocktails. Everything was perfect.
We started with a cocktail - it was so hard to choose! The cocktail menu was as eclectic as the decor, but still fit the overall theme with lots of herbal undertones and splashes of absinthe. Over our two visits, we drank Beet the System (featuring the sweet and earthy taste of beets with fragrant rosemary), Freudian Slip (citrus decked out with cardamom), Absinthe Makes the Heart Grow Fonder (complex and herbal), and Note to Self (warm, familiar, with a little walnut-bitter).
The first night, we chose a selection of small plates. One of our favorites was the Truffled Honey with Goat Cheese Crustinni - I'm not kidding when I say this is one of the best things I have ever eaten. It was ordered again for lunch. The grilled artichokes were sweet and smokey. The bacon wrapped dates were everything we hoped for. Lamb meatballs were indulgent and flavorful. The brussel sprouts were tender with crispy outsides. For lunch, the venison chili was smokey and filling. The smoked haddock chowder was one of the best fish-stews I have ever consumed, and smelled so good that another patron who was just there for a beer stopped by our table to see what smelled so incredible. (He ordered a bowl.) We also had dessert - a tender pecan-laden bread pudding with a caramel sauce that was not too sweet.
The Salt House is next to the Bucks County Playhouse, at 7 E Ferry St, New Hope, PA 18938. Call for reservations if you are stopping in for dinner: (267) 740-7908. You can also find them on FaceBook and Tock for reservations. During the coronavirus "shelter-in-place" order they are offering curb-side delivery.
Let me know if you give The Salt Box a try! I know that I will be coming back the next time I'm in the area.