Monday, 1 April 2013

John Salt, Islington Upper Street - the place to go for Sunday roasts

Weekend roasts at John Salt

Address: 131 Upper Street
Islington, London N1 1QP
Phone: 020 7359 7501
Nearest Overground station:
Angel, Highbury & Islington

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: below £30
Service charge: 12.5%
Taste: ****
Service: ****
Ambience: ***
John Salt along Islington Upper Street is noticeably more crowded these days. I hesitate to say that it's like that only after Spalding's sudden departure at the end of December as I've read raving reviews about his cooking while he was the head chef at John Salt. At the time of his departure, he had a full booking for Christmas and New Year.

During Spalding's two month stint at John Salt, there was a tasting menu. For £34, you'd have had the privilege of sitting on the chef's table where Spalding will prepare six dishes of your choice. It didn't look as sexy as it sounds - the "chef's table" was a elongated table with a small induction cooker. When it wasn't used, it doubled up as a ingredients storage. Right smacked between the bar and the rest of the tables, you' be forgiven if you felt a bit uneasy.

It wasn't just that but throughout my meal there, there was some tension between the bar staff and Spalding. Suffice to say that I have had more enjoyable meals.

Anyway, I hadn't return after Spalding left until I walked past John Salt a couple of weeks ago and thought that it was another restaurant. The entire place was bustling on a Saturday afternoon. Surely the new chef, Neil Rankin (@frontlinechef) must be doing something right so we decided to check out the Sunday roasts the very next day.

The entire place was packed (top and ground floors) when we dropped in just after noontime but the friendly staff found us a small table by the stairs. The couple arriving after us had to wait at the bar.

While we were waiting for our roasts, LO suddenly decided to kick up a fuss about some marshmallows that John Salt used to store in large bottles at the back of the restaurant. It never cease to amaze me the things that toddlers remember. Long story short, the marshmallows were no longer there but a staff upon hearing our predicament, went into the kitchen and got us a huge bowl of colourful marshmallows. I forgot to ask for her name but she bought us some precious time to enjoy our roasts in relative peace.

Pork roast at John Salt

The pork roast (£15) was not much to look at to be honest. It was messy to say the least with a shrivelled up Yorkshire pudding to boot. Things got better from there on. The pulled pork shoulder easily soaked up the thin gravy. While there was no crackling from the pork belly to speak of, the layer of fats more than made up for that. The fats' retained its integrity and literally melted in my mouth. That was worth every bit of the calorific guilt.

Beef roast at John Salt

Even at £17, the beef roast's portion was generous. Meat teared easily off the short ribs and a healthy pink was exposed in the neatly sliced sirloin. Tender and succulent were the two words that came to mind.

We left John Salt with a smile on our faces knowing that we have found yet another place to have Sunday roasts in Angel. The next time round, we'll come armed with some marshmallows.

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