Review: The Saltgrass, Deptford, Sunderland
You can judge a good Sunday dinner on the length of the nap you need afterwards.
I needed to lie down for a good 90 minutes after tackling the giant portions at The Saltgrass – so it must be decent.
As pubs go, you can’t get more proper than The Saltgrass.
Once a mid-nineteenth century watering hole for thirsty workers from the now long-gone shipyards, it still has that authentic English pub feel that so many new places try, and fail, to replicate.
Low ceilings, cosy corners and a roaring open fire help to create a snug atmosphere, which is enhanced by a spring renovation last year. In keeping with the waterside history of the place, the decor features seafaring paraphernalia such as old ship’s ropes, diving helmet and life rings, which blend in well with more trendy shabby chic trinkets.
As it entered a new chapter in its history, the pub was looking ship shape, until five days before Christmas that is, when a blaze forced the closure of the pub. After a major clean up, it recently started pulling pints once more, and on a visit last Sunday there was no sign of the fire that tore through the bar and restaurant.
With its laid-back vibe, it’s perfect for a lazy Sunday, but make sure to book for the restaurant as it can get busy on weekends. Our party of seven was seated in the restaurant area which is larger than you’d think for a historic boozer. The Sunday dinner menu (lunch if you’re a Southerner) holds no surprises, but is just what you want if you’re after a traditional meal.
It’s slightly pricier, but it knocks socks off chain carveries. Choices of beef, pork and chicken will set you back £9.95 with all the trimmings, or you can pay a quid extra for lamb or £8.50 for a veggie butternut squash option.
Eyes bigger than our bellies, we primed our stomachs with some starters, which include classics such as soup of the day (£3.50) and prawn cocktail (£4.95).
My choice of bruschetta (£4.25) tasted fine but was served on a toasted bun, rather than the usual baguette. I wouldn’t order it again, but it’s not needed anyway when the mains are this good.
My plate could barely contain the giant fluffy Yorkshire pud as it made a valiant attempt to topple off, assisted ably by large portions of stuffing, three huge hunks of boneless chicken, swede mash, a roasty and a parnsip masquerading as a pig in a blanket with its wrapping of bacon. That’s not it either. You also get more veg for the table to share and a beautifully-executed creamed cabbage studded with bacon, which we enjoyed so much we asked for the recipe.
The star of the show, however, was the gravy.
It was the real deal, made with juices of the meat, and you got plenty of it on your meal with extra gravy boats for the table.
Wanting to wash your roast dinner with a pint? Prices are pretty standard at £3.80 for a pint of Blue Moon and £3.90 for a Moretti.
I made a good attempt to plough my way through the food, but was defeated after two thirds before having to retire home to put my feet up. This was the recipe for a perfect Sunday afternoon.