The Wordrobe’s Editor Sophie Ritchie finds quite the catch when she takes The Salt Room in Brighton for a taste drive
On a lukewarm September evening, I move speedily through Brighton’s busy streets like a dog sniffing out its food bowl with expert precision. As usual, I’m ravenous – an appetite prompted less by the fresh sea air and more by spending the day hauling my body up and down steep chalk cliffs – and when I spot the nearby light of The Salt Room, awaiting me at the end of the road, it glimmers like a gourmet beacon of hope.
At 9pm, it’s almost completely dark outside, but this seafront restaurant still has views worth fawning over. Perched opposite Brighton’s West Pier, the landscape of water before me is simply sublime, even with the i360 looming in the background like a trendier Eye of Sauron.
But there’s little time to stop for scenery, I’m famished – and heave open the restaurant’s weighty doors with my dining companions in tow to find a buzzing, bustling hub before me.
Absolutely heaving with guests, almost every chair is filled – always a good sign. We’re shown to our table positioned towards the back of the modern industrial-style venue and I waste no time in getting acquainted with the new autumn menu and the exposed brick interiors.
If you love seasonal fare, the newly revived dishes, courtesy of Head Chef Dave Mothersill, are bound to impress with high quality ingredients and carefully chosen plates. The Salt Room specialises in seafood of the juiciest kind – it even scooped top place (or should that be plaice…) at 2017’s Seafood Restaurant of the Year competition, and thus there’s half an ocean to choose from.
The menu, divided neatly into clear sections, comes filled with oysters, mussels, ceviche and hunks of different fish. Dishes are named plainly – Hake, Whole Bream, Grey-Mullet – but finished creations are presented with flair and vibrance.
There’s also steak for the carnivores and vegetarian options too – as well as special market fish selections, which you’ll find scrawled on a chalk board in the restaurant’s belly.
I’m a sucker for anything Latin American, so I start with ceviche – the Scallops, Pumpkin, Bacon Cream, Yuzu (£14). The raw scallops are smooth and supple, arranged on the plate in a circle of autumnal shades from the silky amber pumpkin and bacon cream. It’s light yet decadent all at once, the soft textures juxtaposed with a crunchy flutter of pumpkin seeds.
My main, the Halibut, Crab, Lemongrass Bisque, Seaweed, Broccoli (£24) arrives as an equally well-arranged plate. Food here demands to be looked at before it’s devoured – which I waste no time in doing, digging my fork through the meaty fish.
Topped with delicate broccoli spears and a large serving of shredded crab, it’s a balanced hit that doesn’t need a mammoth portion of sides. I wash it down with a glass of Malvazija, a Croatian white wine that pairs beautifully with the lean fish.
Whilst the seafood at The Salt Room is undoubtedly good, it’s the service here that brings the restaurant to life. Our waitress is fantastic – friendly without being overbearing, attending to our tables and the others around with ease despite the restaurant nearly bursting with chatting diners. It’s worth noting that nothing feels forced or rushed here – the experience flows like a well-rehearsed orchestra performing effortless concertos.
I’m too full for dessert (a tragedy of the sweetest kind) but we opt for another round of wine and for the designated driver, a Real Kombucha. At 11.30pm, when we’ve drained the last of our glasses, the diners around are still in full foodie swing – the restaurant booming with laughter as people suavely swill glasses and glide forks across plates.
The Wordrobe verdict
Sophisticated seafood without an air of stuffiness – if you love fresh fish and chic dining experiences, The Salt Room is quite the catch.
Make it happen
Where: 106 Kings Rd, Brighton BN1 2FU
Bookings: Visit saltroom-restaurant.co.uk or phone to make a booking