The Salt Room, Brighton’s latest high end restaurant situated in the Hilton Metropole did not get off to a good start for me. I called to book, received a confirmatory email and then a second which I was asked to confirm. Enough already. Then Emily called in the morning for yet another confirmation just when I was doing an internet purchase, thereby causing me to purchase something at five times the price. This took an hour to undo. Ok Daffers was careless but does it need three confirmations for a restaurant that was only half full? I could not help thinking that they positioned thèmselves as one of those super trendy London restaurants that are booked out months in advance. A quick glance at the menu indicated the prices were London too.
By offering primarily fish with a a grilled meat option the Salt Room is taking on two established Brighton restaurants, English’s and Riddle and Fynn’s, just below them on the beach. As it was brewing up a storm yesterday I cannot imagine that anyone except the most intrepid was anywhere near the sea.
The restaurant was under the same ownership as the successful Coalshed though a different dining experience. It’s large modem minimalist dining space with views out to sea and terrace. The seating could have been more comfortable and the table small for the three of us. Most of the diners were grouped by the window with the sea view and the habit of restaurants when not over-full to group tables close together.
Despite this unpromising start the food was excellent, even exceptional. I had a goat mousse, my two male guests one a dishy oarsman who can row me home anyday (aye, aye!!!) chose and paised the pigeon starter . The Merlot from Stellenbosch was divine from a wine menu that offered an interesting and eclectic choice of world as well as French wine. I then had the seafood platter of langoustine, crab claws, oysters, lobster, mussels, prawns and whelks . There’s not lot of culinary skill required but the two sauces, one one of garlic, were delicious. I especially liked the way the lobster was stuffed with crayfish too. There was room for a naughty chocolate mousse and we rounded it off with some espresso martinis
The Burgundy, a Beaume, was a tad disappointing for the price. However my chief complaint was the service. We sat down at 12-30, ordered 5 minutes later, but he mains did not arrive till 1-45, by which time the Daffer’s tummy was rumbling!!! Could the kitchen cope if the restaurant was full? The service though slow was impeccable otherwise. Twice in doing battle with my crustaceans I dropped both fork and knife and our waitress rushed with replacements. My section of the small table resembled the second settle of Passhcendale with all the sea food detritus emphasising the need for greater space.
At £80 per head with admittedly top of the menu wines drinks before and stickies the Salt Room is not cheap. It does not have the traditional ambience of English that has been a restaurant for 150 years and the ownership of the Lloyd Jones family since 1945 but it’s a welcome addition to Brighton’s restaurant scene on the front.