Back in February the team behind The Coal Shed in Brighton opened up a new food joint on the seafront next to The Metropole, The Salt Room seafood and grill restaurant. No expense has been spared with the decor, and as soon as you walk in you get a sense that your dining experience and the service will be superb.
Despite aiming at the upper end of the market, there is a very reasonable lunch set menu (£15 for 2 courses or £17.50 for 3 courses). I ordered from here but there were many other temptations, including daily specials that were very hard to resist.
As I was driving, I went for a ‘Driver’s Choice’ Red Collins cocktail – £4 which was made up of raspberry, citrus, soda and lemon wheel. It was absolutely divine – the perfect blend of sweet and sour. Nan ordered the Caribbean Choice – £4 which was a blend of pineapple juice, almond syrup and citrus. Again this was tongue tantalisingly gorgeous, particularly the creamy, nutty flavour from the almond syrup.
To start, I decided to be adventurous and go for the whipped lardo with paprika on toast. Sadly it was a bit underwhelming and I was disappointed with this course. The lardo is the dripping of fat from pork belly, whipped up into balls and set on homemade toasted bread. It was a very delicate dish but just didn’t do anything for my taste buds personally. If it wasn’t for the gherkins and the aioli we had with our side order of bread, the whole thing would have been pretty bland.
Nan went for the fish soup – £7 to start, which was also on the set menu and was a much better choice. As you can see from the picture below it came to the table without the rouille. I imagine this is so you can see what’s in the dish before they pour the rouille into the bowl at the table. (I liked this way of serving, yes it’s a bit of a novelty, but it also really sets the level of service. So what was in the bow? Octopus, mackerel and croutons. The soup was lovely and delicate but full-flavoured (very much like the French way of doing it) and we mopped up every last morsel with our side of freshly baked Salt Room bread and butter – £2.
Now onto our mains. I told Nan to go big as it was her birthday. So she really did. Having never had a Surf & Turf and after my encouragement, she went for half a lobster – £19 with a 250g Black Angus rib-eye steak – £22. It was insanely good. A lovely chunky cut of rib-eye steak, cooked to medium perfection on the restaurant’s Josper Grill. (And by medium, I mean as it should be, lovely and pink in the centre). I’m sure the Josper grill had something to do how succulent the steak tasted as it was unlike any other steak I’ve had.
My main was divine. I chose Mussels Provencale from the set menu, which came heritage tomatoes, capers, white wine, parsley, a local sea vegetable and toasted bread. A classic, simple dish, served piping hot and a good portion size.
We also ordered Salt Room chips – £3 and the seaweed, miso and sesame salad – £4 as sides (again being adventurous with the seaweed). However, both of us agreed that this wasn’t our thing. If you like ice-cold veg this will probably be right up your street. Personally, it was far too salty for me.
I would have loved to have tried the infamous ‘Taste of the Pier’ dessert – £17, which includes all the delights you’d find on the Pier i.e. candy floss, doughnuts, ice cream etc, but we were both absolutely stuffed after our 2-course lunch, so one to hold out for my next visit.
PRICE: £88 for two people (2 courses + 2 sides and non-alcoholic drinks)
RATING: Must Go | Worth A Try | Give It A Miss
The Salt Room does classic dishes to perfection, I couldn’t falter the steak, lobster and mussels. However, some of the quirkier dishes (lardo and seaweed salad) didn’t hit the mark for me or Nan. Stick to the classics and you won’t be disappointed with your meal. In terms of the service that was impeccable, attentive and friendly but not over-bearing. I would recommend visiting, but be prepared to dig deep into your pocket.