When a new restaurant opens in town, plonks itself right next door to an already very respected restaurant and when it’s run by a chef who is getting some very positive TV exposure, we simply had to try it out.
Salt offers a modern take on British food and is located on Church Street in Stratford upon Avon. A picturesque and relatively quiet small street containing the District Council building, Shakespeare’s old school and tudor period – still used almshouses. Leaving just enough room for an Italian deli, two pubs, (The Townhouse and the Windmill), Salt and right next door No 9 Church Street, a restaurant offering – modern British food!
After service we caught up with Chef Paul Foster to find out more about the philosophy and approach behind Salt and why open up to next to a similar restaurant.
Paul along with partner Rhiain had a plan with two very clear ideas, open up a restaurant to their own exacting standards and to try crowdfunding for most of the required funds to get started. The crowdfunding worked and brought in some other investors and with the concept sorted the hunt was on for premises. The property they found was ideal for their purposes and in no way do they see a restaurant next door as a problem. Infact Wayne Thomson Chef/Patron of No9 and the team at Salt work together to make Church Street a destination for their type of diner.
This collaborative philosophy runs through to sourcing local produce for both menu and bar, with meat from Aubrey Allen and a range of locally produced drinks. I started off the evening with a G&T using Stratford Gin from Shakespeare Distillery and looked forward to sampling some of Aubrey Allen’s finest later in the evening.
The menu is concise with two routes to take, a tasting menu, with the option of wine tasting to match and an a’ la carte menu with just three choices for each of the three courses. And although vegetarians are not overburdened with choices, vegetables are very much part of what is available, considered and used carefully and not just an accompaniment.
We went for the a’ la carte route and for starters my dining partner joined me in choosing the crispy pork belly with kohlrabi and pine pickled gooseberries. The portion size was spot on and so was the pork, the kohlrabi worked well and the pickled gooseberries were just the right touch to lift the dish and cut through.
For the main course, my partner opted for the roast cod with Porthilly oyster and parsley sauce, seaweed and shaved fennel. The cod was chunky, the veg finely arranged and the sauce is more of a broth, (in fact they supply a spoon with this dish). The received thumbs up and raised eyebrows are the traditional sign of approval for the dish from my partner, as was the empty bowl.
I went for the roast rump of lamb, braised neck, lovage, young carrots and smoked cod’s roe. Yes, cod’s roe and boy did it work.
I was asked if I wanted my lamb pink, (I did) and it was just about perfect. The vegetables had bite and freshness, but the cod’s roe, an emulsion, raised this dish to something very special. Described as just smoked roe on the menu, I had to check that this was what I thought it was, (ie fishy roe) and it was.
With most dishes on the menu the Chef is constantly changing parts of the mix to push it forward and the use of smoked roe is a recent change, replacing an elderflower emulsion. I have never considered matching smoked roe with roast lamb but it just works. Lamb needs something to cut through, but many traditional accompaniments are too harsh, the smokiness of the roe simply works with the lamb to bring the best out of it.
My partner chose to finish with the Valrhona chocolate ganache with miso ice cream and banana toffee. It was delicious with an almost Black Forest feel to it, which at this level of quality was a pleasant surprise, a homely recognisable taste, with a hard to discern but delightful top note.
I decided on the cheese board – three great cheeses, apple chutney and lavoche bread, (a salted crisp flatbread, seen as you ask) which works extremely well. Good choices of cheese and accompanied by a Pineau des Charentes, suggested by the waiter and a good choice to match the cheeses.
Grown up eating at a manageable, if not everyday price. The service is excellent and complementary bread and butter to start and sweetmeats to finish as well as the real quality of the offer, supplies value for money for the whole package.
Good marketing is attracting discerning locals and tourists looking for something special. The competition in town is plentiful, with more than just No 9 next door offering modern British food at this price level, however Stratford seems to be able to absorb all newcomers as long as the offer and the location are right. Salt has covered those needs and we look forward to seeing how the Salt brand expands.
Check out their website for opening times,, menus and much more and do give Salt a try if you visit Stratford, or indeed if you live there.