A few seasons ago, Selfridges had the bright idea of opening up their prime real estate rooftop and introducing themed bars and restaurants for shoppers, tourists and locals alike. Last winter it was Le Chalet with Alpine wooden panelling, blankets and more hot chocolate than bloggers could shake a stick at. This summer, it's Vintage Salt and inspired by Cornish fishing villages all decked out in blues and Breton striped servers.
After a brilliantly boozy brunch one Saturday at Pachamama (read about it here) and some attempts at shopping, Soph and I ventured up for a drink. An unsuccessful and frustrating 30 minutes later, we left empty-handed as four attempts to order drinks had been ignored. Ouch. We managed to catch Simon, the manager, on our way out and he later invited us back for a bottle of sparkling wine.
With that in mind, we returned last Thursday on a warmish, sunny evening just perfect for catch ups. Soph had just celebrated her one year anniversary with her boyfriend so the English sparkling wine was a nice little treat (whilst I, on the other hand, recently celebrated a six month anniversary with mine and now it is no more, so slightly less of a celebration there).
The weekly printed menu tells you the weather forecast and the food is heavily fishy, which is right up my winding little Cornish alley. We decided to kick off with the London particulars fritters, made from pea and ham hock and served with a light mustard mayonnaise. The batter was light, the seasoning was good and the mayo had the right amount of kick to complement.
Mains next and Sophie went for the Josper grilled spring chicken. A huge portion (it has to be at £18.50), it's smothered with a tangy barbecue marinade and finished on the grill du jour to combine that charcoal taste with the surety of an actually cooked piece of chicken. It came served with a spicy slaw which lifted the entire dish completely and was eagerly mopped up by both of us.
I chose the sea bass a la plancha which came with surf clams and wilted beach greens - in my case, samphire. It was well pan-fried with a lovely colour but a little underseasoned and a little dry on the whole. Swiping some of the slaw from the chicken was a brilliant idea and those truffle chips? To absolutely die for and hugely worth ordering.
We finished on the brownie sundae dip (although were very tempted by the chocolate burger) and a deliberately upturned ice cream cone spilling with marshmallow, brownie pieces and chocolate crumb arrived at the table. Scooped up with plenty of chocolate ice cream and the obligatory cone, this was a finale that wasn't overkill. It was also, perhaps, the most authentic Cornish village dish of the day.
All in all Vintage Salt was great, but a little underwhelming ultimately. The staff are friendly and attentive when you need them but the food didn't blow me away. It's busy and popular and the ideal place for people-watching but if you're after the fishy wow factor, I'd suggest trying one of these fine fisheries.
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