I’m going to start by apologising. I actually went to The Salt Room a week ago. Then I was lazy and it was my housemates birthday and I was lazy again. But here we go.
So because said housemate (thanks Jenny Bernarde!) does some of The Salt Room’s marketing, we got invited to the soft launch on Wednesday (ahead of the main opening on the Friday. I felt well fancy) where we got 50% off food which was even more exciting. I’ve been following The Salt Room on Twitter since they announced it, then they released the menu the day before we went so I was very much looking forward to going.
From the outside the building looks slick and upmarket – a long terrace across the front of the Hilton which opens in the summer and is heated in the winter gives views over
the main road the seafront with the Palace Pier to the left, the West pier to the right. We walk in to find the standard exposed brick that now features in every pub and restaurant combined with fresh white walls and great lighting (until it gets a bit later when the light drops and we have a few issues reading the menu).
We were seated at our table next to the window (lovely views in the summer I’m sure, night time in February – slightly less so) and started pouring over the drinks menu. A long list of wine, cocktails and a special gin and Tonica menu with no Bombay Sapphire in sight (hurrah!). I settled for the Garden Fizz – beefeater gin, sage, dried citrus, lemon and bitters. These are my favourite things (admittedly sage isn’t usually in my cocktails but gin and lemon are made for each other) so I was very happy. The gin and tonic of the birthday girl came in a balloon glass which, according to our waitress, holds a pint of liquid. I’m currently finding some for my flat.
Now the food:
Starters – one lobster and shellfish cocktail, one salt baked and smoked beetroot with goat curd, cocoa nibs and blood orange. I can only vouch for the beetroot, but it’s safe to say my saying “everything is better smoked” remains true for beetroot. The only thing I would have changed would be to have a slightly smaller piece of beetroot – mine was quite large and after a while you realise you are just eating a whole beetroot. Lovely as it was, perhaps just slightly smaller in the future.
Mains – one steak (ordered well done but arrived beautifully pink in the middle), one shrimp and crab burger and one spiced monkfish (mine).
The monkfish was meaty and soft – my complaint here was that it appeared to be a big medallion of flesh, only to dive in and find the big tailbone running through the middle (and sadly I felt it was too nice a place to pick the bone up and suck the flesh off). That aside, it was lovely. Pickled cauliflower and ginger were wonderful and went well with the subtly spiced monkfish.
Having stolen a piece of crab burger, I want to go back purely to eat more of that. Small shrimps combined with crab meat made for an interesting burger – a mix of textures from the meaty shrimp and the flaky crab work well with the bun and flavoured mayo. The fries that accompanied the burger and the steak were salty and crispy and perfect – and it’s nice to not see sweet potato fries on a menu for once!
As our dishes were whisked away we started lusting over the pudding that had been delivered to the table next to us. Made to share, the Taste of the Pier platter features candy floss, mini 99’s, donuts, marshmallows, chocolate pebbles and honeycomb. Unfortunately our full bellies didn’t allow us to order one but next time I’ll forgo the starter to give it a good go!
Whilst the food was wonderful, there were a few little problems. Whilst they were super quick taking our order, we waited over 15 minutes for our drinks, 25 minutes for our after dinner drinks which never arrived so we asked for the bill, which took another 10 minutes to arrive. The lobster and shellfish cocktail had bits of shell throughout which was tricky to see through the sauce leaving my companion to pick bits out of his mouth (super attractive). I presume these are all teething issues that will be worked out when they’ve been open a bit longer. The 50% off food helped to make me not mind about the waiting, and I would certainly go back again.
I want to go back to try all of the gins. And all of the cocktails. And should probably give the wine list a good go. Then it’s on to the steak, the crab and prawn burger, the fire roasted crab claws, the raw beef, the cured salmon, the turbot, the taste of the pier…
Basically all of the food and drink. In my belly. Preferably with someone else picking up the bill.