I am extremely blessed to have such a doting and generous sister. It was the culmination of my undergraduate years and possibly the last exam that I would ever take in my life, and she agreed that a celebratory meal was in order – and that she would treat me. As we all know, tapas and “small plates” is all the rage now (Esquina, Foodbar Dada, Bogeda Y Tapas, Morsels etc). While I’m not a slave to food fashion, who doesn’t like variety? Salt Tapas & Bar is the casual sister restaurant of the upmarket Salt Grill & Bar, the Salt group being the brainchild of celebrity chef Luke Mangan. They have an attractively priced set lunch at $24.50, which include two tapas of your choice.
Our experience took on a rocky start. While I settled for the tapas set lunch, my sister preferred to go a la carte. To utter incredulity, we we told that it was the kitchen’s policy that both of us had to order the either set lunch or from the a la carte menu. I couldn’t think of one sound reason under the sun that would justify such a policy. Although there was much displeasure, we didn’t want to kick up a fuss and my sister kindly switched to the tapas set instead.
My two tapas choices were: Tuna tartare, ruby grapefruit, wasabi mayo from the Sea selection and roasted pumpkin with dukkah, Spanish blue cheese, caramelised pear & walnut from the Garden selection. My sister got the Taco of tempura prawn, pineapple salsa from Nibbles, and Salt & pepper squid, lime mayo from Sea. As you can tell, we love our seafood! Tomato bread was provided too. With its plain Jane looks, you’d never imagine how tasty tomato relish + olive oil on toast could actually be. The charred edges imparted a nice smokey tone.
I found both the tuna tatare and tempura prawn taco rather pedestrian, given the expectations that this was supposed to be a celebrity chef’s restaurant. Both were too heavy-handed on the dressing. While the first bite of the zippy tatare and the tangy taco awoke the tastebuds, it soon got monotonous as the copious amount of sauce and salt weighed in. To give credit, the seafood was fresh and the prawns huge and crunchy.
The favorite dish was unanimously the pumpkin dukkah salad. I mean, just look at those little pillows of golden, gooey, melt-in-your-mouth pumpkin, coated with some secret honey-like dressing. The blue cheese was pretty strong, but it provided a nice salty contrast to the otherwise sweet tapas. Along with pears, walnuts and a few straggly pieces of rocket leaves (which would be better if there were more) I loved the interplay between the myriad flavours and textures. As before, the amount of dressing was quite overboard, but being the pumpkin lover that I am, I cleaned up every piece of golden goodness 🙂
Overall it was a hit-and-miss affair. I would really appreciate if they could review their unfanthomable tapas-or-a la carte policy. I wouldn’t mind returning just for the pumpkin salad alone, and probably some of their dessert items like the churros and chocolate. Most importantly I enjoyed the company of my sister for the afternoon. Thanks Hamm for the treat!
I felt quite uncomfortable and guilty about eating almost the entire plate of pumpkin, thinking about the oil, sugar and cheese, as well as the sodium bomb from the other dishes. I don’t know why, but it gets me anxious when I develop a bloated stomach. A few hours later I did some business in the toilet and by dinner time everything was back to normal and I was actually slightly hungry. This probably shows how distorted my portion sizes are and should be a learning point and starting point to tackle. (Reminder to self: do not worry about bloated stomachs. After all I’ve to gain weight and this would inevitably entail some bloatedness.)
Bible verse for the day: on Love (since we’re talking about sisterly love and it’s Mother’s Day tomorrow!)
Do everything in love.
1 Corinthians 16:14
Short, sweet & simple.