The culinary adventures of some gluten hating girl in London
Islington restaurant John Salt caused quite a stir when it opened under the tenure of Chef Ben Spalding – who made people lick actual bricks for some reason. He then left in a hurry, and was replaced by Pitt Cue’s Neil Rankin, who, it is claimed, was somewhat of a charcoal grill/big pieces of piggy meat hot shot. He’s since upped sticks, and been replaced by this gravy loving chef-man.
The restaurant itself is ferociously on trend. Light peters out of exposed bulb in a nonchalant way, as if it can barely be bothered to illuminate the place at all. There’s a popcorn stand plonked in the middle of the place, doubling up as decks. It’s all gunmetal grey and brown and sophisticated as shit.
The actual restaurant is situated on a little mezzanine level above the bar, which apparently gets rather loud of a weekend night. Youth of today etc. Upstairs though it’s cosy and can be, with great big tables that provide the privacy most London restaurants seem to have completely given up on.
And so we come to the menu, and it’s a bit of a weird one. They haven’t gone in for starters mains and desserts, really. Instead it is fish followed by meat followed by pud. We kicked off our meal with charred mackerel and pepper salsa, the perfect start and the perfect firey salsa. Father also tried the chicken fried whitebait (full of gluten) – which I presume is what whitebait would be if the Colonel got hold of it. He seemed to love it, though.
And then the meat. There was no dithering here, it was barbecued underblade fillet all the way. A fine choice, I made, as this perfect cut of meat was plonked in front of me, but I did feel it wasn’t quite hot enough. Not sure what happened there.
Pops went with the cheeseburger, a monster of the burger world which it seemed at least 50% of the restaurant had chosen. He said it was one of the finest in London town, and devoured it in 30 seconds flat, so if you’re taking a gluten-lover out for dinner this could be the way to go.
We had a smidgeon of room for dessert so chose black figs, vanilla mascarpone, toasted oats and honey. A strange combination on paper, but a delight when it arrived! Perfect crunchy oats, sweet rich mascarpone and FIGS. I do love a fig.
There’s also a whopping great cocktail list which, in a bar as alarmingly cool as this, I was confident would be pretty good. I mean, their version of a Bloody Mary comes with cheese and crackers, for god’s sake. Who could complain about that? They’re probably not gluten free crackers, but we’ll let that slide shall we…
HOWEVER: John Salt did slip up on our visit, twice in fact. At first they gave us a bill with an additional dessert on it. I told them no no no, and they took it back. Then they gave us a new bill with an entirely different table’s food on it. Beers and everything. Once is ok but twice? Not great…
The Verdict: Good food, reasonable prices and a creative menu. Worth a little trip up the Northern Line, check the bill though!
Gluten Free: Yes, loads to choose from.