EAT: The Salt Room

With its one year anniversary fast approaching, we were delighted to be asked to review The Salt Room restaurant. Since opening its doors in Brighton’s Metropole Hotel, it has enjoyed rave reviews from diners and has been on our radar for quite some time.

We visited on a Thursday night and the restaurant was comfortably busy – always a good sign mid-week in Brighton. Decor is very of the moment – bare brick walls, exposed light bulbs, muted tones, copper fittings, you know the drill. Front of house staff are professional, friendly and eager to please, promptly taking our coats and delivering menus. They were also on hand to advise on the extensive drinks menu.

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A first glance at the menu and it’s clear to see that it has taken inspiration from sister restaurant, The Coal Shed, with the Josper grill making a welcome appearance. We opted for fish soup for starters and it was divine: rich and intense with beautifully arranged mackerel and octopus, a battered mussel and squid ink purée. The soup is served in a jug that you pour over the fish – a nice touch, we thought.

Mains consisted of grilled bream with smoked celeriac and a fennel risotto. The bream was cooked to perfection, firm but flaky with a pleasingly crispy skin; the risotto was light but rich with generous amounts of fennel. Sadly the hispi with hazelnut pesto side failed to excite and lacked taste – even the Josper couldn’t inject some much-needed flavour into this poor brassica. However, chocolate fondants make us happy and the Salt Room’s was a triumph. We defy anyone not to love this rich, oozy, hot chocolate pudding. We’ve heard lots about the ‘Taste of the Pier’ dessert but £17 seemed expensive, even if it was for sharing.

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Prices overall felt a little on the high side – especially if you compare the restaurant to somewhere like London’s J. Sheeky (one of our favourites) – but part of the restaurant’s philosophy is to serve sustainably-sourced, great quality food, so we’re assuming this is why. Saying that, there is a sensibly-priced wine list with plenty of wines available by the glass – we tried the Argentinian Estate Malbec, which was delicious – and the set menus look like great value for money so we’ve vowed to return again to try these.

Brighton seafront is crying out for some great dining institutions, and we’re hoping that’s exactly what The Salt Room will become in time. Roll on long summer lunches, dining on the large outdoor terrace, sipping Ridegview‘s finest fizz whilst gazing into the azure blue waters of the English Channel.

The Salt Room, 106 King’s Rd, Brighton, BN1 2FA. Tel: 01273 929488. Map.

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