31 March 2013

John Salt, Upper Street

You know those spur of the moment meet ups you arrange with a friend when you just fancy a good old chat and some tasty food? This was one such occasion. This was Saturday afternoon.

We are long-time visitors to the many restaurants, bars and pubs of Upper Street in Angel. Ever since we first met around ten years ago, our original little girly group - Tina, Philippa, Lisa, Hayley and I - frequently arranged our nights out here, most notably in The Winchester on Essex Road.

Caroline      Tina
I had noted that there was a new restaurant on the strip! And not just another quirky restaurant-come-loud cocktail bar like many of the venues nearby. John Salt, I'd heard, was much more laid back and homely, billing itself as 'A Neighbourhood Bar With Good Beer'.

I arrived fifteen minutes late having forgotten yet again to check if Arsenal were playing at home at the nearby Emirates stadium...they were of course. Ridiculous traffic!

But I made it. Inside John Salt it's bright, modern and casual - my kind of place when all you want is a relaxed catch up.

Despite the menu choice being rather short, we were amused at how long it took us to actually decide what we wanted! Quite frankly, I wanted to try all of this intriguing fare.

On the menu there is no explanation of what each dish is (have you ever heard of a Red Flannel Hash?) so I'm sure the waiters here are kept very busy repeating a list of food items over and over again.

Just a bit of info regarding the Head Chef here. The restaurant originally opened a few months back with their 'hot young chef' Ben Spalding winning it rave reviews. But for one reason or another, Spalding threw in the tea-towel and John Salt quickly installed Neil Rankin - another 'hot young chef'. To quote a Time Out review, "Neil Rankin (formerly of Pitt Cue Co) deals in meaty smoke-house cooking with elegant, modist twists". Quite.

Having listened to our waitress reel off all the ingredients in that Red Flannel Hash I mentioned - beetroot, red onion, leeks, sweetcorn, goats cheese and roast potatoes with a breadcrumbed egg on top - I decided to give it a try. It's unlike me to go for the vegetarian option but it just sounded yum. I also ordered a side of the pulled pork, kimchi and cheese frites. Tina ordered the green chilli poussin.

Have you ever had a Bloody Mary served with a cheese biscuit?

Me neither! 

Happily, I have now.

About twenty minutes later our food arrived.

Here is my Red Flannel Hash

Wow, it was a delight! Loads of my favourite things all seemingly thrown together into one crazy dish! The juicy beetroot and tangy caramelised onions worked so beautifully with the creamy goat's cheese. The potatoes were a welcome crispy addition and the perfectly runny egg was the proverbial cherry on the cake. I need to make this dish at home!

The pulled pork frites were really good too. Smoky and spicy, they also serve a huge portion!

Just look at Tina's poussin

 What a neat and saucy little bird!

Tina kindly let me try a bit and it was beautifully moist and not at all bland as poussin often can tend to be. The honey glaze was sweet and tangy. Tina was impressed!

After a little more time putting the world to rights, we thought we would order dessert.

Okay, I'll fess up. Tina was full up so I ordered two desserts. Oink!

I decided upon the bacon panna cotta (very Heston!) and - with good intentions of taking it home to my husband who has the sweetest of sweet teeth - the Oreo, peanut butter and chocolate tart.

I wasn't sure if I would like the panna cotta. I'm not even a huge fan of bacon to be honest but the idea just intrigued me. I had tried bacon used in a dessert before at Jamie Oliver's Fifteen and it did work.

I think I liked it.

Yes I think I did. It was milky, wonderfully creamy and the smoky bacon flavour, although clearly apparent, was subtle enough not to be too weird. The sweet maple reduction added to the sweetness. But I must admit, the conflict of bacon and sweet dessert did send my head in a bit of a spin!

I tried a little of the tart but I think the amount of time it lasted after I'd put it in front of Alex back at home is the best review....about 15 seconds!

I had a fabulous lunch at John Salt. The venue was laid back (this was a Saturday afternoon though - I hear it's a different story Saturday evenings), the food very exciting and it was all pretty good value for money!

My only gripe was the service which although quite friendly, was a little slow.

Still, it wasn't enough to ruin a very lovely catch-up.

John Salt
Bar Service
Waiter Service

John Salt on Urbanspoon


  1. I have been meaning to try John Salt ever since it opened but still not got round to it. It seems reasonably priced for the quality of food you get. The pulled pork frites & poussin look amazing!!

    1. It's definitely worth a visit I reckon! I'd be interested to know what the atmosphere is like on a weekend evening...

  2. Oooooohhh I live round the corner from JS and I still havent been!! Must go! The menu sounds really creative and I want to try that bacon pannacotta YUM :)

  3. I went there last week and also thoroughly enjoyed the food which was innovative, and well cooked and presented. Probably a good thing I don't live round the corner! Loving your blog Caroline :-)


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