Sunday, 30 October 2016

Brighton's Salt Room is a fine dining star

BBQ mackerel and accompaniments
It’s some time since, on a trip away from London for work, I’ve treated myself to a lone fine dining experience.

But in Brighton in June, the The Other Half and I tried a new(ish) restaurant on the seafront, The Salt Room, and back in the city for work this weekend, I booked for myself.

From that, you’ll be able to surmise that it was a good experience – but perhaps that was luck?

On Saturday evening, I was seated at a spacious table, with a view across the promenade to the Channel as night slipped in.

The Salt Room has a short menu – always a good thing ­– but nevertheless, it was no easy choice. There is little on the list that I would not appreciate.

That, of course, is where a nice dry sherry comes in as you browse and salivate.

I opted, in the end, for BBQ mackerel as a starter. Three slices of impeccably cooked fish – and you can easily taste just how fresh it was in the first place – came with a sea buckthorn curd, passionfruit, beetroot, slices of almost translucent raddish and a garnish of dill.

It looked beautiful and it tasted beautiful.

The flavour combination might sound odd, but it was not: the curd in particular was a gorgeous revelation, the beet supplies earthiness, the raddish a spot of crisp bite and the fruit a little zing.

For a main, I opted for partridge with more beetroot, smoked bacon, kale, quince and a bread sauce.

Some might have also selected side dishes (a peculiarly British dining thing), but I had no need. Portion size was perfect for me and when food is like this, why change what the chef has designed?

Again, the beet added earthiness, if it was a little undercooked for my usual taste. The partridge was simply superb ­–­ moist and tender and with excellent flavour.

The bread sauce was a delight and the kale and bacon added textures and tastes to a thoroughly pleasing dish.

Both these dishes simply sang of autumn: bold, earthy flavours from excellent seasonal produce reminds the diner – if this is needed – why seasonality is not simply sensible, but a joy.

One of the joys of dining on your own is that nothing need come between you and mulling the flavours you’re enjoying – and that was certainly the case here.

Chocolate ganache
To finish, I opted for a chocolate ganache, with frozen blackberry meringue, compote and liquorice ice cream – another hit.

Blackberry – when not sweetened by processing – has a wonderfully tart taste and also simply reeks of autumn.

I enjoyed some Riesling Trimbach to accompany. The wine list is not particularly lengthy, but there are far more wines available by the glass than is often the situation.

The service is informal  and friendly, but also efficient and knowledgeable.

Back in June, The Other Half observed that he could not think of anywhere in the UK where he’d eaten, that was not Michelin starred, that was as good as The Salt Room.

A second visit did nothing at all to make me disagree.

To find out more and to book, visit

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