Having just arrived at our holiday chalet, foot loose and fancy free, my husband, sister-in-law and I decided that a slap-up lunch was in order, to really kick start our Cornish seaside weekend with some typical Essex style. When driving to a nearby supermarket to pick up typical chalet supplies, we spotted a gorgeous mixed brick building, white framed rectangular windows edged neatly with red brick and picnic benches invitingly posed behind a tall hedge, designed no doubt to block the view of the adjacent roundabout. Reading the signage, we worked out that it was in fact a restaurant, so we decided that a spot of exploration would be par for the (lunch) course.
Salt Kitchen and Bar, which opens for breakfast, lunch and dinner, was stylishly slick yet cosy and inviting all at once, with a pared back nautical theme that is cool rather than cheesy. The mixed brickwork carries on inside for a few feature walls, while cream painted walls help to create a spacious feel, as well as some well placed mirrors. The natural wood flooring and neutral colour palette definitely brighten up the interior, although sea-themed accents of greys and navy entice the bar to have a bit of personality. The specials board was uniquely written on rectangular decorated glass panes, one for main dishes, one for desserts and one – most importantly – for cocktails.
The interior had wide and roomy pale wooden tables, in an array of sizes to accommodate all groups and parties. There were also some grey sofa arrangements for those just looking to mingle with some drinks. The bar itself looked like a submarine to me, as it was on staggered levels and had round porthole style lights in the side, glowing a pale turquoise in colour. Salt definitely has an air of trendiness, seeking, no doubt, to edge one fashionable foot forward in a stereotypical seaside holiday resort location.
Since I am on my holidays, I decided to start as I meant to go on – with a cocktail. I chose the dessert-inspired Raspberry Ripple, which included raspberry and vanilla flavoured vodkas, soda water and grenadine for a fruity yet ice cream toned flavour. The tall cocktail was served in a gorgeous heavy crystal glass with a lovely pattern adorning the edges. Piled high with frozen berries to act as cooling ice cubes, this drink was zingy, fresh and fruity, being both refreshing and also sweet. A thumbs up from me here.
For my lunch, I didn’t want anything too heavy as I didn’t know what our dinner plans would be. Although I’m not usually one for ordering a salad, Salt’s herb-crusted and fried halloumi salad quickly caught my eye, as anything featuring this thick and salty cheese usually does. Served on a wide square plate, the salad itself was fairly standard with mixed salad leaves, neat arches of cucumber, halved cherry tomatoes and stick-like slices of mixed peppers. The halloumi was wonderful and ticked all of my boxes. The cheese was cut into fish finger type shapes, lightly coated in a herb accented breadcrumb mix and then lightly fried. The halloumi itself was yummy, however the crunchy coating helped add another contrasting texture to the cheese and added a few extra favours too for a really delicious dish. The whole salad was also drizzled over with a balsamic glaze, and since I love balsamic, this was great for me. I was really surprised by how much halloumi I was given as well; some salads can be notoriously stingy, however my salad leaves were well hidden beneath the generous pile of halloumi, which had my eyes nearly as wide as my plate in anticipation!
In a square dip dish on my plate, I was also given a tomato-based dipping sauce. Slightly chunky with pieces of onion, yet also rather liquidy, this sauce was delicious. It had a garlicky and pepper tone that gave it a smoky warmth, and it was just bursting at the seams with flavour. Dunking my halloumi in it worked really well, as although halloumi is very distinctive as a cheese flavour, it is also mild enough to carry a strong dipping sauce. The breadcrumb coating was also a good carrier for the dip, so all in all, it worked very well together as a combination.
I have to say, I was very impressed with my lunch. I really liked the flavour combinations and the execution of the dish, it looked great and tasted fantastic too. The portion was also a generous size however I didn’t feel overfull at all so it hit the right balance there. With the fact that my cocktail, priced at £6.50 I think, was also yummy, I was feeling pretty smug about my food choices! My only bugbear with my Salt experience was how long we had to wait for food. I saw my salad sitting up on the bar for an age before the other unfinished plates joined it and then the plates sat there for a while longer before the halloumi and extra bits were added to our meals. For what we ordered, the wait seemed too long, and we didn’t feel that we had the full attention of the staff as they whizzed around restocking various segments of the bar and calling out to each other to bring stock to different areas. We wondered whether this lack of attention equated to a longer waiting time?
My husband and sister-in-law both ordered the same for their lunches; a chicken and bacon ciabatta served with skinny fries. When it arrived at the table, on wooden chopping board style plates, it was certainly an impressive size, the ciabatta like rectangular rolls and stacked high with chicken breast, lettuce, tomato and lean but chunky bacon slices. The fries were dished up in small metal baskets designed like the basket of a deep fat fryer.
I liked Salt and now that it’s on our radar, I think we would visit again. The menu was varied enough to suit all of our tastes and had a choice of main meals and lunch options that we could tailor for our purpose too. The cocktail menu alone would keep me quiet for a couple of hours and I don’t think the food was overpriced either. The ciabatta were £7.50 I believe and I think my meal was around a tenner, excluding my cocktail. We also had the restaurant pretty much to ourselves, so not only was it peaceful, but we chose a great table by the window to catch the afternoon sun as we ate. A really lovely lunch and an ideal way to start a long weekend by the seaside.