The historic Horton Grand Hotel is updating its restaurant and bar, combining them into one fresh dining and drinking destination called Salt & Whiskey. Due in mid-July, Salt & Whiskey will span Ida Bailey’s restaurant, named after the downtown district’s once-famous madam, and the handsome mahogany and marble Palace Bar, with the two spaces now connected by a new doorway.
The Victorian-era hotel has roots that date back to the 1880s but the original building was relocated to make way for the Westfield Horton Plaza mall, moving to its current location in the Gaslamp over thirty years ago. The reconfiguration of its bar and restaurant into Salt & Whiskey incorporates a timely facelift and also new Welsh-born chef Aaron Thomas, who transplants downtown from Avant restaurant at The Rancho Bernardo Inn. Thomas’ background will be reflected in his take on fish and chips while his decade of culinary experience will show on progressive plates including pork three ways with pork tenderloin, belly and cracklings with sea beans and quince and pan seared scallops with orange parsnip puree, sous vide leeks and cucumber.
Behind the Palace bar, which has been a swanky, under-the-radar spot for classic cocktails and its comprehensive whiskey collection, is Nick Goers. The barman will preside over its spirits selections, including over 600 whiskeys, and a cocktail list that highlights brown spirits in drinks ranging from the Popavardier with Buffalo Trace bourbon, Poppy Amaro, house barrel-aged vermouth and fresh orange juice to the Doppelgänger with Kikori, blackberry-brandy syrup, dry port and creme de mure.