Tapas at Salt Yard

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An oldie, but definitely a goodie, this Spanish-Italian tapas joint has long been a firm favourite in the Kelly household. If you want guaranteed great food and wine, served in a relaxed atmosphere without that eye-watering bill, Salt Yard is the perfect place for you. Home to London’s best mac and cheese and some pretty damn good croquettes (and you know I love a croquette), believe me when I say, this one’s going to have you coming back week, after week, after week.

Salt Yard, nestled in Fitzrovia, was Sanja Morris and Simon Mullins’ first restaurant and since its opening in 2005 and bringing the hugely talented Ben Tish on as Head Chef, this powerful team have gone on to open a further four restaurants. With Dehesa (just off Carnaby Street), Opera Tavern (Covent Garden), Ember Yard (Soho) and the new Veneta (in St James, these boys are owning the London tapas scene. But for us, you just can’t beat the original.

The Salt Yard restaurant is utterly charming. When it’s just the two of us, our favourite spot is perched at the bar upstairs, nibbling our way through a couple of charcuterie and cheese boards and chatting away to the friendly staff.

Tonight however, we were introducing our lovely friends Tom and Priya into the Salt Yard family, and so we had a table downstairs.

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The ambience in the dining room is just so lovely. With soft and flattering lighting (hence the poor quality photos – sorry!) and butter-soft leather benches, you’ll never want to leave this cosy haven.

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We were shown to our candlelit corner for the night, right next to the bird’s eye view into the kitchen…

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And I ordered a glass of bubbles (because getting to the end of any week in January and February is worth a celebration)…

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I went for the house bubbly which was amazing! It tasted so much like champagne I had to double check what I’d ordered. It was a Cava (the Mas Macia Cava Brut to be specific), which happens to be made by the Champagne method and so it has that amazing biscuity flavour. Impossible to stop at just one glass.

Then it was time to order some snacks…

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Alongside these delicious little plates, there’s an impressive selection of meat and cheese boards. You could spend your whole evening just working through the front side of the menu.

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As always, we only just managed to resist ordering everything.

Setting up that oh-so-familiar bread trap, we kicked off with the chargrilled flat bread, served with a dollop of homemade butter…

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Freshly charred to order with a light dusting of sea salt…

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Up next were the most perfectly cooked quails eggs I’ve ever had.

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With half of the shells prettily peeled away…

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You just need to roll them in that trail of paprika salt…

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And bite through to the soft, runny yolk…

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An epic start to any meal.

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Next up were the pork rillons with apple sauce and crispy serrano ham…

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And a plate of Salt Yard’s own chilli and marjoram salami…

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With Mr Kelly having surfaced from the panicked hunger state he was in, Priya and I could take our time picking out our tapas dishes.

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This is where the staff’s weekly training sessions really shine through. Ask them about anything on the menu and they’ll be able to describe it in meticulous detail. It’s so obvious that everyone at Salt Yard is passionate about the food they serve.

We had to order the signature dish: courgette flowers. Lightly fried, keeping that crunch in the courgette, petals stuffed with Monte Enebro goats’ cheese and a drizzle of honey, these are truly special.

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Up next, the slow cooked octopus in a zesty lemon and chilli dressing (and a rather special bottle of Sassicaia to accompany it)…

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Served with ratte potatoes, a scattering of capers and a tasty saffron aioli, it looked almost too good to eat. Almost.

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And, let me tell you, that wine was really good.

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One of my favourites from this visit: a deliciously, creamy pool of parmesan polenta with sautéed forest mushrooms, grilled leeks and mushroom cream…

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Followed by roasted paprika chicken, sautéed baby artichokes, shaved Jamón Ibérico and, oh yes, more of that amazing aioli…

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Then for my favourite bites in the world…croquettes. And Salt Yard’s chorizo picante, leek and manchego croquetas, topped with salsa rosa, don’t disappoint.

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And just when we thought we couldn’t eat another thing, the table magically filled again…

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This little, bubbling pot of cheesy heaven is Salt Yard’s truffle mac and cheese…

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There are just no words to describe how good this dish is. Topped with crispy breadcrumbs and fresh truffle shavings, for me, this is Salt Yard’s showstopper.

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And if you can’t wait until your booking, you can try and make your own at home (scroll down, it’s the fifth recipe on the article).

Then for a little nest of patatas fritas with bravas sauce and, can you guess, more aioli…

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This place is not for those watching their waistlines!

As with any fried potato dish, the patatas bravas went down a storm with the boys…

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That meaty looking dish was the grilled flat iron, with mushroom tapenade, celeriac purée and roasted chestnuts…

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Amazing, amazing, amazing.

I don’t know what Priya was enjoying more…the Sassicaia or the never-ending food…

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And finally, the crab arancini, with baked squash, pea shoots and toasted seeds…

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Even after that feast, we just couldn’t resist finishing off with something sweet. Salt Yard’s desserts never disappoint. You’re not going to get some plasticky tasting cheesecake or a few scoops of watery ice-cream here.

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We went for the Valrhona hazelnut chocolate mousse with light-as-air mini churros, a salted chocolate crumb and plums soaked in Oloroso.

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And espresso martinis all round. It was Friday night after all…

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Salt Yard, once again, you did us proud. We’ll be back, again and again. Even if we only have time to pop in for one of your espresso martinis…

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If you’re going to pop along and you want to sit at a table, I would definitely recommend booking in advance. Enjoy every mouthful and let me know what you think! Just please order at least one pot of that mac and cheese. It’ll change your world.

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London-based foodie with a shopping addiction, a love for swanky interiors and an obsession with white sandy beaches.

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