31 Stonehouse St.
You have to know about Rock Salt to go there. Unless you happen to be looking for an automated garage door, a hire car or gym. It's in the kind of place you'd never imagine a restaurant to be. However, having been to La Cigale Égarée which has a Peugeot dealers on one side, forest on the other and serves some pretty incredible things, this had promise. A vintage-type room full of pale worn woods, natural light, cream paints and mismatched crockery made it feel halfway between a village tea-room and beach cantina - pleasant. Water coming to the table in a stoppered bottle and a very extensive menu on a wooden clipboard kept that impression. A glass of sparkling cranberry and some paper napkins later, we were just a sausage roll short of a picnic. One look at the menu totally changed this - Head Chef David Jenkins isn't a man for plating up uninspiring, insipid variations on the crowd. Pork, skate and peanuts. Cauliflower velouté, tandoori onion. A kitchen of three putting bold, quirky and fun plates out like that is fantastic. It says a lot for the dining scene nowadays that I expected pork, skate and peanuts to be a large white plate, or possibly slate, on which I'd find a cube of pressed pork belly, a seared skate cheek and crushed peanuts as a garnish. Microgreens could feature. What I got can only be described as a cauldron, containing oh-so-soft pork belly, beautifully cooked skate and peanuts in a deep and intense broth. Pleasant picnics aside, this was a £6.50 ticket to heaven, stopping briefly in South-East Asia. A silky-smooth cauliflower soup came and was poured over what looked like an onion bhaji with 'it's my restaurant and I'll cook what I want to cook' emblazoned on the side of the pleasingly generous dish. I lied about that last bit, but it might as well have been there. No infantile scribbles of puree on the plate - things are about flavour here. Thankfully, Rock Salt doesn't feel the need to say their meat is from Dartmoor, their seafood from Cornwall and everything organic or free range. Such things should be a given in restaurants. May we see more like this...