Times have changed at this seafront cafe and restaurant since my last visit.
It’s a good few years since I visited the Salt House Kitchen when it had a rustic look. But gone is the wicker and country cottage charm to be replaced by something altogether more glamorous: I certainly wasn’t expecting to find a little corner of the Great Gatsby in Seaburn.
An Art Deco-style ceiling punctuated with chandeliers, a wall of mirrors and a rich colour palette of purples and greys gives the Salt House a strong identity at a location which could have easily just fallen back on its view for decor inspiration.
Flanked by Italian and Indian restaurants, Salt House has more of an elegant vibe and though it’s a little dark inside (make sure you bring your reading glasses for the menu), it had a great atmosphere for evening dining.
It’s also open during the day for dog walkers and beach-goers with tables outside to take full advantage of those sea views.
The weekend menu also brings something a little different to the Queens Parade string of restaurants with an imaginative selection of dishes that change monthly.
So far so good, but our dinner ended up being a meal of two halves.
There’s a concise selection of starters (too much choice has you wondering about how much attention can be paid to each dish), with options such as pan fried local mackerel fillet on a bed of potato and fennel salad (£6.50), and spiced lamb flat bread (£7).
We both ordered the Greek platter for starters (£7 each) which 100% sounded my type on paper, but ended up being a damp squib.
The small Greek salad was about 60% red onion, topped with just a few diced cubes of tomato and cucumber and a sprinkling of feta. The pots of tzatziki. and hummus were better-sized and had a satisfyingly chunky home-made taste, but with only a few paper-thin slivers of pitta with which to dunk in the pots we had to ask for more bread, twice.
This wasn’t a problem for the staff who were perfectly friendly and, thankfully, the second and third rounds of pitta, which they didn’t charge us for, had been cut into thicker soldiers that were more suited for mopping up the dips.
After a disappointing starter, my mains was a triumph. I chose the monkfish tail wrapped in Parma ham on a seafood bisque linguine, topped with seaweed spaghetti (£15).
I was served a large, prettily-presented portion decorated with artful swirls of sauce. There was plenty of fish for the price: three large hunks of springy monkfish that were perfectly paired with their blankets of ham. The fresh linguine was just the right side of firm while the bisque, often an overly-rich option, was beautifully-executed. Meanwhile, the seawood spaghetti added a contrast of textures and a bit of bite to the proceedings. The Greek starter may have been weak, but the monkfish mains more than saved the day.