'DON’T TOUCH' screams the sign on the table. 'DO NOT TOUCH THE ITEMS' howls another. 'PLEASE DO NOT HANDLE ITEMS' another. I am in the Salts Mill Home Shop and, to be honest, I am tired of not being able to touch anything. If I am to buy a candle, I want to have a good sniff of it first.
"Days pass and the cakes arrive. The ice-cream comes as a separate meal so I look like Two-Puddings Davis. And the espresso never materialises."
I am browsing while my companion waits in the queue for lunch at Salts Diner, the principal restaurant in Saltaire's mill. The queue, on a Saturday lunchtime, is impressively long. This has to be a good sign. Black-and-white waiters and waitresses busily clear tables and the line of potential diners subsides fairly fast. But not so fast that I don’t have time to cop a sneaky feel of an Eames chair first.
We are seated speedily by the cheery maitre’d and immediately go and gather all the interesting-looking papers from the centre table. If the queue is that long, we are here for the long haul.
Salts Diner, located next to the mill’s Home Shop, is a large, open-plan, canteen-style eatery. Stone flag floors and painted-white brick walls complement the industrial girders and pillars of the original mill. The décor is sparse but stylish and the waiting staff are identikit in white Salts t-shirts and black trousers.
The only problem with so many young, similar-sized waiters (about ten of them) all at once is that it’s hard to know who you’re actually being served by. A cheerful blonde teen immediately takes our drinks order and about two seconds later she brings it. Or it may not be her. We order a starter to share of olives and sourdough bread (£3), sparkling water, a latte (because I have recently returned from the Rockies and fancy myself all Canadian) and a Staroproman lager. The bread is delicious but there is a smidgen of oil on it and none accompanying it, which would be nice. However, it does arrive with impressive speed and throughout, our waitress is attentive and friendly.
For our main courses I choose a mushroom bolognaise tagliatelli (£8) with pine nuts and my companion opts for chilli beef nachos (£9). We could also have our pick of salmon, ribeye steak or sausages, among others.
The main course takes a little time to arrive and we look around expectantly. It transpires (from a blonde girl, perhaps a different one this time) that the chef has forgotten about us. Nonetheless, when this is discovered, the food arrives promptly.
My tagliatelli is good, not drowned in sauce as it can sometimes be, and with subtle flavours. My partner’s nachos are “a little sugary” but fine and the chilli is nice and hot. His guacamole is lemony and well spiced.
I really want some parmesan though (I think it’s only right) so I call over a passing brunette. Our blonde also comes and there is a slight awkwardness over who will provide it. In the end the brunette does the honours and from that moment on, we are ignored wholeheartedly and passionately by the blonde.
Due perhaps to Parmesan-Gate, we wait for what seems like about half an hour to order dessert. Everyone seems busy but behind-the-scenes rather than near the tables. So we eventually collar a boy who saunters over casually with no pad and listens to our dessert order in a vague and vacant fashion. I ask whether I can have ice-cream with my cassata Siciliana (£3.50) – a sponge cake with ricotta cheese, candied peel and pistachio icing – and he tells me that I will have to pay extra for that. It’s fine but I tend to expect a cakey pudding to have an option of cream or ice-cream. My partner chooses Tunisian citrus cake (£3.50). I also order an espresso (£1.25).
Days pass and the cakes arrive. The ice-cream comes as a separate meal so I look like Two-Puddings Davis. And the espresso never materialises. However, my cassata is delicious. The pistachio cream is moist and tasty and the sponge is light. But I can’t imagine enjoying it half as much without the ice-cream to soften it. My partner’s dessert is “pleasingly dense” with a very moist sponge but, I agree, it is more like a polenta cake.
Initial service here is great. The place is heaving and the staff manage to get diners in and out without oppressing them. Service is friendly, if a little inconsistent. The food is good and the menu is varied. I will come again. But I won’t make any appointments afterwards.
|Breakdown:|| 6/10 Food |
|Address:|| Salts Diner |
5 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.
sorry last few visits the food was very dissapointing need to do better than one free glass of…Read more
Cool post very informative. I just found your site and read through a few posts although this is my…Read more
This is another good reason to travel. This restaurant is a place to go to. Nice chinese restaurant…Read more
Malaysian tea? I know that India and China are known for that, but I suppose that places like…Read more