The high ceilings, exposed framing and bright, modern furnishings of Salt Tears Coffeehouse and Noshery give it a classy industrial vibe. The food, however, is anything but industrial. Chef Andrea Maricich, former co-owner of Tapas Estrella and The MilkyWay with her husband Mitchell Maricich, makes as much as she can from scratch--pretty much everything is baked, blended, cured, marinated or roasted in-house.
"It's something I believe in," says Maricich. "It's important for society that things don't come out of packages and just get heated up."
The house-baked roll on the mozzarella, tomato and basil sandwich ($6.50) is lightly floured on the outside with a firm powdery dryness that balances the juicy squish of the roasted tomatoes and light, pillowy mozzarella within. Rather than dominating the tender flavor of the cheese, Maricich's pesto is mild, a subtle foundation. Because of inconsistencies in milk during winter, Maricich isn't making the mozzarella herself, but she plans to start come summer when she can get better milk.
The sandwich is served with a side of potato salad--made with quartered red potatoes and green onions tossed in a mix of olive oil and a sweet, tangy seeded mustard that frees the dish from the curse of mayonnaise--and a mysterious selection of spiced and pickled vegetables. A bright orange globe had a wonderfully tart crunch and a bright pink interior that only added to its mystery. According to an employee, it was either a radish or a daikon, its coloration the result of turmeric.
Overall, the meal was light, refreshing summer food--the sort of sandwich that eats like a salad. However, like a salad, it wasn't tremendously filling. Though the snack-sized nature of Salt Tears' food is alluded to in the name, "Noshery," a location with convenient Greenbelt access for calorie-burning bikers and walkers could use some denser items on the menu.
To wash back the nosh, Salt Tears serves Coeur D'Alene-roasted Doma coffee. Each cup is ground and brewed to order, giving it a fresh robust flavor that's unique from the more acidic blends squeezed out of air pots at other local shops.
Unfortunately, Salt Tears serves this delicious brew in wide-mouth mugs that let the coffee grow cold quickly. But that's not keeping people away. On a recent lunch visit, there was only one open table. While the restaurant's popularity can be partially credited to Maricich placing it in a culinarily underserved neighborhood, the food would stand out anywhere.
"I think Boiseans get it," says Maricich. "It's about people appreciating good food, whether it's fine dining or a sandwich."