After walking past it on the way to other destinations for a solid 15 months, I finally made it to try Salt on the King's Mile the other week. After tasting the food I seriously regret not heading in there sooner, though really I ought to have known better. Not only has everyone been recommending it to me, but I've never had a bad experience in the building. I was a massive fan of The Hutch, the vegetarian restaurant that used to occupy the space, and Coffee & Corks, the coffee shop and wine bar which was there before that.
Salt is all about small, sharing plates of dishes made with locally sourced ingredients. Delicious things come out of their tiny kitchen, and they also have an impressive stock of local brews and wines. Our server ran off the wine list for us off the top of his head, and especially off of the back of my trip to Spanish wine country, it was nice to come across a server who knew what he was talking about when it came to making recommendations and describing what was on offer. They have a good selection of English wines by the bottle that I was tempted by, but I was overruled by the rest of the table; we all ended up with lovely glasses of Spanish Rioja. As if I have not had enough of it recently! It did go wonderfully with the food, though.
The menu rotates depending on what is available, so I'll just share what we ate to give a general idea of the sort of things they serve up, and fingers crossed at this time of year some of them might be on when you visit. I'd recommend about 2 dishes and one side per person, but honestly because there were only 3 of us and because I can't eat most cheeses was the only reason we were choosy at all; I'd say for a group of 4 or more just order one of each from the whole menu, and once you've had a chance to see what you really love, order more of that if you're hungry. That is what we did with the venison meatballs!
Speaking of those meatballs, we ordered more because they were absolutely delicious. The rosemary was balanced just right so that you really knew it was there, but so that it was not overpowering, and the quince jelly was the perfect accompaniment. If they're on when you're visiting, it would be an error not to get them; they were honestly one of my favourites.
Also here you can see the house side salad, lovely and seasonal with lightly candied pecans. It is a shame to just call it a side, and I think the same can be said for the Crushed Thanet (local) Potatoes, below. Light, buttery and with just enough herbs and seasoning to really make them sing. In the background of that photo you can also see the Beetroot and Cheddar Flatbread that was ordered, but I was unable to taste. Apparently it was delicious, but also very comforting. Melt in the mouth, and the beetroot was nice and mild.
I only had a bite or two of the braised beef shank and half a shallot (which were both very good) because I was totally distracted by the sizeable chunk of bone marrow that had landed on our table as part of the dish. Now, I recommend that you only order a dish with bone marrow in at Salt if you're safe in the knowledge that you're the only one sitting around the table who even likes marrow, because I can promise you you're not going to want to share. Unctuous is the best way I think to describe it, and it was perfectly cooked. The best piece I've ever had out in a restaurant. Another word to the wise: you're not going to waste all that delicious liquid marrow that runs out of it as you scoop out the middle, so order a flatbread as one of your sides.
One of the most exciting dishes for the veggie fiends among us around the table was the Roasted Pumpkin and Cavolo Nero with Sage and Cobnut Pesto. I'm always excited by good, seasonal ingredients (and it is a feat for me to be really excited a pumpkin dish at the moment, I already feel like this just a few weeks into cooking with our endless glut) but it was the pesto that really made this dish special. It was a flavour hit that coated the cavolo nero perfectly and had my fork constantly heading back to the dish. I also like how unique it is to the area. Kentish Cobnuts are something that I always read other food writers complaining how hard they are to get hold of, and I just simile smugly; it is a truly local crop. I've sometimes come across small, rather expensive trays of them at Borough Market on one of my many brainstorming trips for the column I write for their website, but here in Canterbury there are masses of them sold in Waitrose!
The pan fried wood pigeon with pureed celeriac and prunes was an enjoyable last minute menu substitution, but the final stand out dish of the meal for me (and which I got to keep all to myself as well) were the Mussels and Bacon with Cider and Clotted Cream. I'm not quite sure where the cream was in the dish, but honestly it did not matter. The chunks of bacon and celery created a lovely texture and flavour contrast to the fat mussels which were beautifully flavoured by the cider. I eat so many dishes of my favourite food, it is always a pleasant surprise to me when I come across a well balanced treatment I've never tried before.
After devouring absolutely everything on the table, ordering dessert was simple. There were two (and a cheeseboard) on offer, and only two sweet-toothed people around the table. We ordered both, with two spoons. The brioche bread pudding with candied marmalade pieces and homemade vanilla ice cream was delicious, though it was not eggy enough for my liking and the brioche could have been softer. Though there was nothing wrong with it by any means, these are more notes on personal preference. My favourite was the typical chocolate fondant, but made seasonal by paring it with plump, juicy blackberries and homemade honeycomb. I think the picture says it all, doesn't it? While I did enjoy the desserts, they were not as exciting as the savoury for me, so if you're more savoury inclined, you don't have to worry about over-ordering and not leaving room for sweets.
I absolutely loved Salt and I'll be back many more times I predict, and as far as the quality of the food it is up there in the city with Deeson's and The Goods Shed (which I promise I will share more than just Instagrams of soon!) You can click here to check out some more of my Canterbury restaurant reviews if you're local, or visiting for a day trip and you're wondering where you should head for lunch. I'm so glad that so many of you have been enjoying Tamago since my review, even the guy serving me in the bank the other day told me he'd enjoyed it after reading my review! Also, a massive thanks to the team at Salt for putting up with me taking photos of their lovely restaurant. Usually I mange to fly under the radar, but that is not really doable when you're sitting at the chef's table!