Put a great, casual restaurant in a popular local hotel, with a waterside location in a holiday town, and you've got Salt, a can't-miss dining spot. The table-studded, tiered deck reaches all the way down to the palm-edged marina. Housed in the Whitianga Hotel, the oldest building in town, Salt serves delicious food in a laid-back environment—the only rule is that patrons must have shoes and no bathing suits. The menu changes with the seasons, sometimes offering porcini-and-portobello mushroom risotto with parmesan and truffle oil, or market fish with saffron pea risotto, chorizo crumbs, and tarrago oil. For dessert, indulge in the Cathedral Cove macadamia treacle sponge with banana ice cream. Bar snacks include lots of fresh sea food such as Coromandel mussels. The oversize leather couches in front of the fireplace are a good place to while away the afternoon on rainy days, otherwise it's all hands on deck. During the summer, we recommend making reservations.
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