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Salts Diner

A run of the mill experience, says Hazel Davis

Published on July 7th 2008.

Salts Diner

'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.

Rating: 12/20
Breakdown: 6/10 Food
3/5 Service
3/5 Ambience
Address: Salts Diner
Salts Mill
BD18 3LA

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5 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Well ReadJuly 2nd 2008.

Gordo, I'm surprised. It means ill natured or churlish - the exact opposite of the wonderful Salt's Diner.

GordoJuly 2nd 2008.

What does curmudgeonly mean?

Well SeasonedJuly 2nd 2008.

What a curmudgeonly review. Peppered with inconsistencies, Hazel seems to have worked herself into a vinegary mood before eating at Salt's Diner. Is it the staff's fault that she can't be bothered to differentiate between them? Having dined at Salt's on many occasions I have never been disappointed in the food or the service. The ambiance is great at both busy and quieter times. Next time Hazel, leave your frustrations at "HOME" then you might enjoy the Diner more.

gordoJuly 2nd 2008.


Dave HackneyedJuly 2nd 2008.

Salts is poor and could be so much better than it currently is. There is potential though and as the writer makes clear, it just needs better organisation.

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