On a drizzly January evening, I was swept into the sanctuary of Salut! the new modern European opening on Essex Road. Behind Salut! is a team of just 2 – brothers Christoph and Martin Lange. Chef Christoph has control of the kitchen, Martin has the run of the floor. Both brothers have equally impressive CVs; Christoph has worked at world-class restaurants such as Noma, whilst Martin was in charge of opening the first National Theatre restaurant. Now was my chance to sample what the brothers – united – could do.
With Christoph preparing for the evening in the open kitchen, Martin brought over a basket of sourdough bread and talked us through the menu. It’s clear the brothers have relished in choosing everything to their liking. This stretches not only to their meat, veg & bread suppliers, but even to the Japanese earth ware and bathroom soap.
Settling into the stripped back wooden chairs, I began with the beef tartare. Out came a palm-sized portion of 45-day aged horn rump, garnished with pea shoots and pansies. The flavoursome meat was delicious in its own right, but made even better by the concealed golden yoke that lay within.
Meanwhile, my friend opted for the king crab on Martin’s suggestion, which proved to be crowning glory of the appetisers. How nice to sample a fresh taste of the sea whilst so comfortably in the city. The citric dressing and salty bite were, as ever, perfect accompaniments.
Sipping on the wonderful Portugese Dão (another excellent recommendation by Martin), I awaited my own fish dish, the sea bream. The bream was pan-fried so I was blessed with a crisp coating on the soft, flaking fillet. The dish was made heartier with their Grandma’s pomeranian fish potatoes, the subtle taste of which complemented the bream rather than detracted from it. The only improvement could have been made with a touch more seasoning for the spuds. The plate was one salt shake away from sublime.
My partner plumped for the pork belly; again with Christoph providing us with textures a-plenty. The crackling gave the right amount of snap to the juicy pork, and the puréed vegetables (butternut squash, onion, cucumber) provided the right hints of sweetness to accentuate the pork’s flavour.
To finish, I picked the poached pear. This array of flavours came together to form something magical. The pear was delectable with the vanilla & white chocolate espuma. The tooth-aching sweetness of the espuma was offset by the sharpness of the berries, all in all making an exquisite dessert. Topping this was a smattering of crushed hazelnut, adding a welcome crunch to this smooth dish.
My friend ended the meal with the cheese, but what dairy delights were consumed we still don’t know, as the cheese had arrived at Salut! without labels. The ‘secret box of cheese’ as Martin aptly called it was nonetheless a great selection. The varying degrees of smokiness and creaminess were all brilliantly paired with the tang of a blueberry jelly. Perhaps even in the most thought out restaurants, there needs to be a little mystery.
Salut! demonstrates the brothers certainly know their onions when it comes to eating out. From the carefully composed menu to the undeniably chic dining room, entrust the Langes with your evening and appetite and you won’t be disappointed.
412 Essex Road, London, N1 3PJ