For the seven years at that Lindsay Ostrander has co-owned a Northport wine bar, she has fantasized about another place, one that didn't exist yet.
"That was my first love," said Ostrander, 35, of The Wine Cellar on Main, a perpetually busy spot that serves tapas and wines chosen by Ostrander, a certified sommelier. "This was a seven-year itch. It's always been on my mind."
The "this" in question is Salted. On The Harbor, a bistro Ostrander opened in late June on the edge of Cow Harbor Park in Northport. On the first day of Phase 3 dining on Long Island, June 24, it turns out a lot of others had Salted on their mind, too: The place was busy from lunch onward, with all of the sidewalk tables full. "We had about 50 [guests] during that first day," she said.
Over the years, Ostrander had kept her eyes peeled for a vacant storefront in town, something close to the wine bar "so I could go back and forth." (Ostrander, who began working in hospitality at age 14, co-owns The Wine Cellar on Main with Michael O'Brien). When sushi restaurant Benkei closed last winter, Ostrander leapt, transforming that spot's dark wood interior into a breezy, easygoing bistro with modern lines, neutral hues and beachy touches such as woven pendant lamps and botanical prints. "We gutted [the space] to the bones," Ostrander said.
Salted was primed and ready to open when the state order to shut down on-premises dining came down on March 16 — but Ostrander used that time to fine-tune her model, she said.
When Salted is full — all restaurants are operating at 50% maximum indoor capacity during Phase 3 — it will have about 40 seats. A centerpiece of the dining room is the long, curved bar, and Ostrander partnered with cocktail consultant Doug Brickel, owner of the Cork & Kerry in Rockville Centre and Floral Park, to build the bar menu. His drinks are rife with whimsical and summery touches, such as coconut-fat-washed green Chartreuse (combined with dry vermouth and prosecco) for the Emerald Spritz. Spearmint-infused Tito's Vodka serves as the base for a "cool" Moscow Mule, and a salted passionfruit margarita and re-upped version of Long Island Iced Tea are among the $13 cocktails.
In charge of food is executive chef Michael Heinlein, a veteran of the Long Island food scene who has run the kitchens of at least 10 restaurants, most recently Whiskey Down Diner in Farmingdale. Heinlein has also has worked at 11zero50 Kitchen & Bar in Port Washington and Casa Mia in Hauppauge, both since closed, as well as Pantry Diner in Rockville Centre, Nantuckets in Port Jefferson and Gusto Divino Trattoria in Seaford.
Heinlein's menu is infused with Tex-Mex touches, with cilantro-lime crema, guacamole, pico de gallo and various salsas making appearances — as so pork-fat tortillas sourced in the Midwest and used for chicken-bacon and skirt steak tacos.
The opening menu is truncated and takeout-focused for now with a significant brunch bent — an egg and bacon sandwich on a pretzel bun, breakfast poutine with tater tots and sausage-cheddar gravy (plus pico), avocado toast and buttermilk pancakes all make appearances. (Brunch is served till 4 p.m. each day Salted is open).
Lunch and dinner appetizers include tuna poke nachos, a pan-seared crab cake and lobster-cheddar fries. An enormous lobster roll, fried-chicken sandwich with peach pico de gallo and romaine salad with grilled chicken, watermelon, strawberries and feta are among the larger plates. Ostrander said Salted will expand the dinner menu soon; filet mignon with lobster-potato-asparagus hash and pan-seared scallops with truffle creamed corn are set to debut this weekend.
Brunch plates ring in from $11 to $14, appetizers top out at $19 and larger plates range between $15 (for tacos) to $22.
Salted is open Wednesday to Sunday for lunch and dinner, and is operating at half-capacity inside with a few tables on the street.
Salted. On the Harbor. 14 Woodbine Ave., Northport. 631-651-2600. saltedontheharbor.com.