Walking into Grey Salt is like walking into an oasis in the middle of a desert — if that desert is a casino, and you’re thirsty for damn good food.
Inside the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, the Mediterranean-style restaurant, with New York celebrity chef Marc Murphy at the helm, has recently revamped its menu with a nod to summer and its crops. Using locally sourced and seasonal ingredients like corn, peas, fava beans and tomatoes, Murphy has tweaked some older items and whipped up a slew of fresh ones to create a bill of fare that brings the gulf to the plate and a smile to the face.
"It's probably our best menu since we've been open," Murphy told CL. "We're very, very excited about it."
Appetizers, like broiled halloumi cheese served on a bed of capers, oregano and tomatoes, join pastas and entrées for a spread that screams (well, more like croons) summertime. Gulf shrimp with rosemary polenta and mushrooms, or sea scallops nestled in charred corn and parsley pistou, are great choices for anyone looking for a taste of the bay.
Daily specials, such as lobster flatbreads, rotate based on what's available.
"Menus are always a work in progress," Murphy said. "We want to bring in some new product... and use those things. It's really about trying to use as much local product as possible."
There are also a number of new cocktails, including the Sicilian Sunset, a fruity blend of Stoli citrus vodka, mandarin and blood oranges, and lime, featuring a pineapple skewer garnish.
But Murphy's menu choices weren't purely motivated by the change in seasons (yes, Floridians, seasons, not temperatures). Since opening in late 2015, the chef said the restaurant has really learned its patrons, and that he's also tailored the menu, in part, to them.
Of the broccoli rabe, he said: "I like it just charred on the grill, but it's still very bitter." It's now served sautéed, which "brings the bitterness down a little bit," and people are enjoying it more than ever.
And that's the kind of guy Murphy is. In jeans and sneakers, he's humble about his restaurant, celeb standing and successful career.
"In the end, we're all just a bunch of line cooks who want to cook food and make people happy," he said.
This attitude filters into the Chopped judge's philanthropic works, too. Traveling to the Bay area at least once a month, Murphy will be here in the fall for a dinner at Grey Salt benefiting Share Our Strength, a charity that seeks to end childhood hunger in America.