6 May 2013

John Salt

There's been a lot of talk about the John Salt in Islington. Opened a few months ago, it saw great success - until its head chef walked out. In stepped Neil Rankin from Jamie Oliver's Barbecoa and Pitt Cue Co and the success has continued.

Describing themselves as 'a neighbourhood bar', it certainly felt like one when we stepped in last night. Friends, dates and dogs (outside) took up every table in sight in the stripped industrial bar. Concrete floors, wooden tables and a towering back bar shelf crammed with bottles gives the John Salt an interesting vibe and I was instantly drawn to the drinks menu (we didn't eat on this occasion although I definitely want to next time).

First round, I had a large glass of rosé - one of two on the menu - which was perfectly crisp and dry. I'd been tempted by their impressive range of beers - both on tap and bottled, which included some from local breweries in  London Fields and Camden to some further afield locations such as Boston and Maui. 

As I'm a sucker for a cocktail, I just had to sample one of the ten or so on offer. Their Beer Glass Mary (a take on a Bloody Mary) came served with crackers and cheese but I ended up opting for the Hey Oh! with its more summery strawberry vibes. A twist on the mojito, strawberry purée, Chambord and pepper were all in the mix and shaken and served in a jar. Nice touch.

As mentioned above, we didn't eat but the menu sounded appealing with starters such as raw beef, pear and sesame going for £6 and tempura oysters with beef fat mayo for £7. The main course mackerel, barbecued with fennel, lime and mint sounds a steal at £10 and I've no idea what the 'banana dog' dessert is but I know I want to try it.

My cocktail came unexpectedly buy-one-get-one-free, and I happily indulged. Although it wasn't in use, there's also an old hot dogs and candy floss stand that's been converted into DJ decks for those fancying some light relief. Attentive bar staff, good vibe and a potentially great dining experience, John Salt gets a four out of five.

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