Rick Sebak enjoys a Rick Sebak at the Independent Brewing Company in Squirrel Hill.

Two weeks ago, Rick Sebak and his crew found themselves fighting the bitter Taku winds in Juneau, Alaska, shooting footage for two new documentaries. On Thursday night, they found some familiar Pittsburgh symmetry.

One of the nicest, if not the nicest restaurant in Juneau is called Salt, so we went there on Thursday night. One of the appetizers there was fries topped with a black truffle sauce and a fried egg. I had a king crab bisque that was just so excellent, and then, what everybody expects you to eat in Alaska, a piece of salmon—this one was served over gnocchi. When they brought it to our table, I thought, “they didn’t even ask me how I wanted it cooked,” but it was perfectly seared on the outside and rare on the inside. Dessert was a chocolate bread pudding. I also had a glass of pinot noir. I usually have beer, but this was the nicest dinner of our trip, so I went with a wine. We ended up going there for lunch the next day because it was so close to where we were filming.

Eight days later and just back from Alaska, Sebak hit the exacta with a return visit to Salt of the Earth in Garfield.

I had this … it’s just called crab, but it has avocado, radishes and rings of hearts of palm stuffed with crab. That’s what got me—I was a foreign exchange student in Brazil and I love hearts of palm and you don’t see them often. It was a near-perfect appetizer and beautiful on the plate. Instead of an entrée, I went with two middle courses. I had the Korean Fried Chicken—they call it the KFC—and a crépinette. I thought it was going to be a small, cute crepe, but a crépinette is actually what you call a sausage that’s been wrapped in beef fat instead of a casing, and this one was made of chicken. It was excellent. I ate the KFC and then the crépinette because I wanted to save the best for last.

crab at salt
Crab appetizer at Salt of the Earth. Photo courtesy of Rick Sebak.

The filmmaker returned to Pittsburgh to find a cocktail named in his honor at the Independent Brewing Company in Squirrel Hill. Sebak’s new documentaries, one on pies and another on bakeries, will debut nationally this summer on PBS.

Matthew Wein

Matthew Wein is a local writer, editor, blogger, storyteller and proud native Pittsburgher. Once described as "a man of things," he covers city design, spirits and craft beer for NEXT, where he keeps all of the editorial meetings light-hearted and interesting. His interests include sorting books, looking at old things and candles which smell like old-growth pine forests.