Ever since I heard that The Salt Room was actually going ahead, I’d imagined all of the cages it would be rattling all the way along the seafront. They’ve opened to a stream of pretty much solid reviews about the food, with some question marks around what some believe to be enthusiastic pricing. But regardless of what anyone else said, I was DYING to try it.
Before I say anything else I feel the need to put a bit of a disclaimer at the beginning of this post: this is going to be a rave review, if you’re here for the LOLs or in the hope I’m going to slate it (Google analytics tell me that people prefer ‘bad’ reviews) then this is not the post for you. I was invited as their guest and I was well and truly wined and dined. However, I still swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
It’s actually harder to write a glowing review when you haven’t paid for the meal (first world problems) because feel I always run the risk of seeming obsequious or somehow ‘bought, but it’s neither of those things. I like what I like and that’s all there is to it. Read my full disclaimer here.
My extremely sore head the next day was down to some of the loveliest cocktails I’ve had in Brighton. I can truly recommend all of the above, but the ‘Lemonescco’ (bottom left) and ‘My tie’ (bottom right) were definitely my favourites. All of them were made by Alex, who seemed like a bit of a legend, in fact, all the staff did, but more on them later.
A special shout out has to go to the dedicated Bloody Mary and Gin and tonic menus, the latter isn’t really my bag after a regrettable incident on Christmas Eve a couple of years ago, but the Bloody Mary selection was right up my street. Have the one with the pickled vodka, it’s really tangy and unusual, and comes with great garnishes.
Obviously I’d been lusting after the menu ever since it’s been up online. I always check the menu, extensively, before I visit somewhere, as I am TERRIBLE at actually committing to what I want. I get the worst FOMO and often end up getting the waitress to make the decision for me. Having a rough idea in advance helps this, a bit. Anyway, my point is, despite detailed reading of the menu, I arrived at the Salt Room absolutely none the wiser as to what I was going to have. Thankfully Jenna was a bit more decisive and we ordered a great mix of food, of which shellfish was at the top of the agenda. It is a great looking menu though, I’d honestly have happily eaten anything from it.
I am going to say something about the price, because I’d be lying if I said I haven’t read and heard a lot of people talking about it. Yes, it is expensive, some might say prohibitively so, but they haven’t cut any corners, it’s a beautiful venue, there are plenty of staff who have the time to stop and chat, despite it being rammo. I think people who come to a place like this and complain about the prices, aren’t taking the cost of good meat and fish, as well as of the running a business like this into consideration. The Salt Room are marketing themselves as an informal, high end restaurant, their prices come with the territory.
I quite respect the fact that they’re unashamed about what they charge. There’s a time and a place for that sort dining, and pricing, and I’d choose to eat there over anywhere else on the seafront right now. Someone on Facebook told me that their set lunch menus are well worth a look, at £12.50/£15 for two or three courses respectively. I’ve no doubt they’ll be ramming out their gorgeous terrace day in night out when the good weather arrives. Good on them I say.
Neither Jenna nor I are huge polenta fans, I don’t mind it as a coating but I loathe it in sloppy form, like weird scrambled egg, bleurgh. Anyway, these were suggested to us as a snack with our cocktails and they were fantastic, pure polena, not at all unlike potato and were super crisp on the outside. I would definitely order them again.
I’ve made no secret of my dislike of smooth meat pate but these pork rilletes topped with pickle were really something special. I would’ve liked some more bread as there was loads in the jar, especially considering the reasonable price, but we happily ate the rest with our forks. They are a fab bar snack or pre-starter.
I’ve never had pigs cheek served crispy before, only braised or shredded. This was like pork belly, but better, and the tart dressing cut through the rich fattiness, beautifully. Some people will question the portion size to price ratio of this, and a few other items we ordered, I’m not going to name them all though. I’ve said all I’m going to on the prices, above, you can’t please everyone all the time. I’d pay the money for it, and that’s all I can base my reviews around.
The salmon was delicate and I loved the miso creme fraiche, the burnt cucumber was perfect with it and didn’t taste dissimilar to perfectly cooked pak choi. I didn’t get a huge hit of truffle, but it was definitely present.
This was a surprise starter that they brought out for us with the oysters and we loved it. At first glance it looks like a modernised version of an old classic, but I thought was iceberg lettuce was actually tomato and seaweed jelly, below a generous layer of sliced lobster and plump shrimps, dressed in a tangy seafood sauce. It was like an amazing savoury trifle of deliciousness, topped off with a lobster cracker, dipped in squid ink deep fried- I cannot even.
The waiter kindly brought us out a large spoon so we could have all of the layers in one mouthful. Little touches like that were ten a penny (in a good way) all night, the staff are clearly rigorously trained to pay attention to detail. It was a seamless operation.
We tried to order one each but they only come in a minimum of half a dozen, so we had those and they were great, totally on a level with the outstanding ones I had at English’s a couple of weeks ago. I think a portion comes with one kind of dipping sauce, but they kindly gave us all three, which were lovely, but I stuck with the one at the top mostly. I love a shallot vinaigrette, the tartness was perfect with the creamy oysters.
It’s only ever after eating oysters, that I remember someone once describing eating them as ‘like playing Russian roulette, for real’. Thankfully I didn’t pay any consequences, lavatorial or otherwise, but I know peoples’ whose entire Christmases have been ruined by a seafood platter on Christmas Eve. It will never stop me though I love those little beauties far too much.
Now seems the best time to talk about our waitress, Fred. Her real name is Frederica, which she hates because it gets shortened to Fred which sounds like a boy. She needn’t worry though as she couldn’t look less like a boy. She was adorable, in every sense, Jenna and I were utterly charmed and I can honestly say that she wowed me in a way that I haven’t been wowed by front of house staff, other than Jamie from Gingerman, like that in a really long time. She was sweet, knowledgeable, made great recommendations and Jenna and I both left there with a bit of a girl crush. There were a lot of stars of the show that night, but she was seriously up there.
My face says it all really. It was just incredible. £40 for that little lot, as well as a salad and, fries, a bread roll and some charcoal mayonnaise which I loved and Jenna didn’t like at all.
In that mountain of goodness is scallops, razor and carpet shell clams, giant juicy prawns, langoustines, oysters and mussels. The only thing that wasn’t tender and cooked perfectly was the squid, and even that was so much better than most I’ve had recently. I can’t imagine going there and ever ordering anything else. If you are there for the fish then I order you to order this.
I want to eat this on their terrace in the blazing sunshine whilst quaffing one of their lemonessco cocktails. YES.
A wild card menu choice and definitely one of the only contexts in which I’d order iceberg. It was a bit of a random one, but it worked. The blue cheese was more of a back note and the croutons were sweet crispy shallots. It probably wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I liked it.
Since the first (of many) time I saw this on Instagram I knew that it had to be mine. There is no other dessert to be ordered there in my opinion, it is everything you could dream of, served up on a piece of the driftwood from the West Pier. I can’t lie and say that in other contexts I don’t absolutely abhor twat planks, but in this context I can forgive it, entirely. I think even the most fervent of the twat plank hating community (believe me, it exists) would concede that if there ever was a time it’s appropriate, it’s probably an assiette called ‘taste of the pier’ on a slab of the pier.
I thought I’d share a little insight into my mind when taking notes as I eat, by copying my ones about dessert verbatim, into this post.
- Not one to use the word perfect lightly, but this was.
- The BEST nougat (frantically underlined)
- Coconut marshmallow- YES.
- Rhubarb candy floss = ground up rhubarb and custard sweets and then spun into floss.
- Donuts, just (frantically underlined) like the pier ones but cooked in oil that doesn’t taste filthy and gross.
- Chocolate pebble- THE BEST THING EVER
- Salted caramel 99- cone was salted too. So creamy.
I think it’s great value and I can imagine all sorts of copy cat themed desserts platters rearing their heads in the near future. So yes, I loved it. Order this. You will not regret it.
Obviously the loos are going to be pristine, they are brand new and have only just opened, but WOW. As regular readers of my blog know, I leave no stone unturned when it comes to toilet cam, and it’s not often that I fall in love with the restroom in a restaurant, but I was head over heels as soon as I opened the door. Spacious, sweet smelling, well lit with absolutely gorgeous fixtures and fitting, I can honestly put my hand on my heart and say it’s the nicest restaurant loo in Brighton. And trust me my friends, I have put a lot of leg work into substantiating that claim.
If I had to think sum up the salt room in one word it would be ‘slick’. Just every little detail from the discreet push and pull signs on the doors (I need all the help I can get) down to the branded soap holders containing Molton Brown products, they really did think of everything.
I failed massively on getting photos of the interior, but rest assured, it is gorgeous. Almost entirely glass with huge, heated terrace at the front, the restaurant is all arches, exposed brick work and muted blue tones. Very tasteful, very seaside and somewhere that I think most people, locals or tourists, would love.
The staff are all very appealing, both aesthetically and personality-wise. I’ve already raved about our waitress Fred an embarrassing amount, but everyone, from the ladies who greeted us and took our coats, to the bar man, the owner and the chef who came out to see us after our meal, were all charming. Whoever is in charge of recruitment and training obviously runs a tight ship, I approve.
If you like seafood, go. If you’ve got a special occasion coming up, go. If you want to impress someone, go. And if you don’t mind paying out for great quality food, in next level surroundings, then go. Just go, OK.
Have you been to the Salt Room? What did you think? Please do comment below or tweet me, lots of you already have, but tell me more!