Salar’s chef dishes on the inspiration behind her Peruvian cuisine

Chef Margot Blondet’s Salar Restaurant and Lounge is the latest restaurant to receive a dining spotlight courtesy of Ethnosh. AMELIA ROBINSON/STAFF

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Chef Margot Blondet’s Salar Restaurant and Lounge is the latest restaurant to receive a dining spotlight courtesy of Ethnosh. AMELIA ROBINSON/STAFF

Dayton is blessed to have a cadre of talented chefs.

One of the names on that list is Chef Margot Blondet, owner and executive chef of Salar Restaurant and Lounge in the Oregon District.

Blondet arrived in the United States in 2005 and quickly landed the job of executive chef at Sidebar in the Oregon District. When it closed, she was offered the opportunity to take the space over and build her own restaurant. She jumped at the chance, and Salar opened its doors in April 2013.

“Peruvian cuisine reflects not only the traditional dishes native to the area but also, through centuries of immigration, influences from Spain, China, Italy, West Africa and Japan. By integrating classical French techniques, our menu will consist of a fusion of influences that result in dishes that are both comfortable and unique. The outcome becomes an exciting twist, rather than a radical departure from the diners’ favorite foods,” Blondet said on her website.

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Ethnosh Dayton’s next NoshUp at Salar is planned for Sunday, Feb. 23. Salar, under the leadership of Chef/Owner Margot Blondet, specializes in Peruvian and world-fusion cuisine and offers a full curated wine list and an exciting craft cocktail list that is a pleasant mixture of classics like Pisco Sours, Mosco Mules, Gimlets and Caipirinhas alongside more interesting boozy creations. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS

Ethnosh Dayton’s next NoshUp at Salar is planned for Sunday, Feb. 23. Salar, under the leadership of Chef/Owner Margot Blondet, specializes in Peruvian and world-fusion cuisine and offers a full curated wine list and an exciting craft cocktail list that is a pleasant mixture of classics like Pisco Sours, Mosco Mules, Gimlets and Caipirinhas alongside more interesting boozy creations. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS

Combined ShapeCaption
Ethnosh Dayton’s next NoshUp at Salar is planned for Sunday, Feb. 23. Salar, under the leadership of Chef/Owner Margot Blondet, specializes in Peruvian and world-fusion cuisine and offers a full curated wine list and an exciting craft cocktail list that is a pleasant mixture of classics like Pisco Sours, Mosco Mules, Gimlets and Caipirinhas alongside more interesting boozy creations. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS

Blondet and Salar are the latest restaurant to receive a dining spotlight courtesy of Ethnosh — an organization that plans monthly dining events called “NoshUps” at immigrant-owned restaurants in Dayton.

The casual tasting event they are planning at Salar on Feb. 23 is now sold out. But the event series offers diners a way to sample and learn about foods from the region’s locally owned ethnic restaurants, meet the people behind the scenes and hear their stories of coming to America.

Stories and food like Blondet’s.

“I was born and raised in Lima (Peru) and trained in a French cooking school in Peru. I lived in Italy and France. I specialize in good food. I love exploring new flavors and new techniques. It’s hard to box me in,” said Blondet. “I will be talking about my beautiful and tasty Peru a lot, explaining all it has to offer. I will be serving Cebiche, Lomo Saltado, and Lucuma. These dishes come from the heart of Peru.”

 

For those that can’t make the tasting, adventuring through the Salar menu is an opportunity that sits at the ready.

The beef tenderloin empanadas are the most popular seller, according to Blondet.

“We do everything from scratch starting with the dough that is rolled by hand, one by one. The stuffing is made with beef tenderloin, onions, tomatoes, Peruvian spices and peppers, then wrapped in the turnover. It is then deep-fried and covered with powder sugar and served with a piece of lemon to bring a touch of acidity. The definition of sweet and savory. Each empanada is sold at $5.”

Another best seller is the double bone Frenched pork chop, which is cooked to order and topped with a spicy rocoto chili jam. Rocoto is a super spicy Peruvian chili and is made in house. The Macchu Picchu Pork Chop ($27) is served with grilled asparagus and mashed potatoes that are mixed with leek confit and carrot juice for color with a healthy dose of cream and butter.

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“We are always looking to introduce new flavors to our customers. For me, it is super important to surprise people with the unexpected and teach their palates something new. We are constantly looking for new flavors, textures, and colors in our food. When it comes to the dining experience, I think we are one of the best in Dayton. The atmosphere, the cocktails, the music, the lights, the actual plates that we use, the glassware, the service, the decoration — everything has been chosen to elevate the costumer’s experience. I want to spoil them,” Blondet said.

The restaurant is working on rolling out updates for spring with a lighter menu that will take advantage of beautiful evenings on the patio. The happy-hour menu was recently updated with the addition of cocktails and deals on the entire beer list.

“We introduced three new menu items, we call ‘Bar Bites,’ like grilled chicken skewers served with green onion salsa and jasmine rice for only $5, and fish tacos. There’s also an option for vegans as well. We are also changing our cocktail menu and adding more Tiki drinks, fresh and light spritzers and mocktails,” said Blondet.

Salar’s menu is mostly gluten free. They use gluten-free soy sauce, rice flour and cornstarch, and being a scratch kitchen makes it very easy to accommodate costumers dining needs.

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Blondet says her vision in the kitchen is to “(go) back to basics. Creating less complicated dishes and giving more value to each ingredient individually … I do not like processed food. I can feel all the chemicals and fake flavors, it drives me crazy. So for me, good food is what you prepare with love and care, even a simple French fry; just take your time to peel a real potato.”

That and salt.

“Salt is essential for me. Don’t forget salt is the essence of life, hence, Salar,” Blondet said.

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