We arrived at the Salt Room fairly early on a Sunday evening, the low hubbub of numerous tables already in full swing serving as an indication of the popularity of this seaside joint at all hours. Our table, on the mezzanine level of the restaurant and with a broad sea aspect, afforded a fine view of the waning sun as it dipped towards the horizon, the navy sea picked out against the sun-bleached sky.
The interior design has an industrial seaside mix: exposed brickwork archways, plank-clad walls, copper lamp shades, exposed filament light bulbs, octagonal porthole-esque sky lights and turquoise leather seating. The room had a lovely sound; the noises of chatter and chinking and laughter abundant but never intrusive; the gently piped music adding to the laid-back ambience yet never a distraction.
The last rays of sunshine caught the smoked salt Negroni – a house speciality aperitif – and it shone brilliantly. It was exquisite, as were the non-alcoholic offerings – both the Red Collins and the Mosquito being imbued with a level of imagination often sadly lacking at the “virgin” end of the menu.
Slow-cooked and coal-roasted beef to start, served on a brown-flecked earthenware plate along with nashi pear, onions and oysters leaves. Sticky on the outside and succulent within, the texture and mouth-feel were perfect; with deep smokey barbecue flavours embedded in the meat shot through with just enough tender fat to be really tasty.
Our waitress, Hattie, was a real delight; as indeed were the entire staff, who all smiled as they passed about us on their business, seemingly swept up in the positivity of a team that knows it has the capacity to delight.
A whole coal-roasted sea bass was brought from the Josper grill, with buttered mash, mussels, clams and sea vegetables alongside. The fish was beyond compare, and the accompaniments weren’t far behind. We gorged on the lot and then picked away at the fish’s skeleton like two refined alley-cats who couldn’t believe their luck.
Served in a dainty little carafe, the Urla di Mare Sauvignon Blanc from Mandrarossa in Sicily was perfectly palatable, and improved as it warmed slightly, with hints of peach and passion fruit coming more to the fore.
Night had fallen, and a bright first quarter moon hung symmetrically between us over the sea. Fiancé finished off with a selection of Cornish Yarg, Ribblesdale, Sharpham Soft and Brighton Blue; served with fig toast, crackers and home-made tomato chutney. Each cheese elicited ever more rapturous sighs of approval; the whole being washed down with an asphyxiating grappa, which he proclaimed be of the highest caliber: “I can’t believe anywhere in England would serve such a horrible drink – it really is awful!” he exclaimed, sipping away with unbridled glee.
I plumped for the wonderfully kitsch-sounding ‘Taste of the Pier’ – a stunning and quite exquisite dessert selection of mint-choc ice cream in a baby cone, chocolate honeycomb bar, chocolate truffle pebbles, raspberry marshmallows and the great highlight – candy floss! Such joy to eat candy floss indoors and in such surroundings.
Flawless. Sublime. Head to The Salt Room.
Enquiries: The Salt Room, 106 King’s Road, Brighton, BN2 1FA / 01273 929 488/ firstname.lastname@example.org / www.saltroom-restaurant.co.uk