Despite minimal sleep, jetlag and it being a Sunday night, I’ll always make an effort for a birthday celebration, so pulled myself together and over to Belgravia for a sumptuous celebratory dinner at Salmontini.
Initially unconvinced by the eclectic menu which combines Middle Eastern, Italian and Japanese cuisine, with a seemingly bizarre focus on smoked salmon, and reviews reporting a good meal but lack of atmosphere, I’m pleased to say that I left a Salmontini enthusiast.
Having now learnt a bit about the restaurant, the concept makes complete sense. With the flagship restaurant based in Dubai, the owners wished to provide diners with familiar foods, such as roast meats and pastas, as well as introduce them to the finest fish and Asian flavours.
The restaurant was so successful that the owners decided to open shop here in London too, maintaining the same impeccably high standards of décor, service, food, drinks and all-round experience.
Salmontini is nothing short of beautiful, with state-of-the-art facilities, and is decked out with solid, dark woods, plush chairs, warm lighting and funky artwork.
Considering it was a Sunday night, the restaurant was relatively very busy and the bar was full.
^ Not my photo, to be clear. Good music pitched at just the right level played keeping everyone in the spirit of #SundayFunday, and was perfect for our party mood, although couples, families and groups of friends all blended in nicely too.
Having had some drinks at the Belgraves Hotel before, we skipped the cocktails and ordered a bottle of white wine, ‘De Loach Chardonnay, Russian River – California, USA, 2012’ (£51.00), to accompany our food.
Since we fancied lots more of the starter than the main options, we decided to order food in rounds, which is always my preferred method of madness when it comes to sharing plates and lots of orders (as you can tell from my recent Zuma post).
We started with the crispy california maki (£12.00) stuffed with fresh crab, ripe avocado, crunchy cucumber, and dotted with wasabi tobiko mayo. Seriously YUM.
The first bite of King prawn tempura (£16.00) didn’t have any of us singing its praises, but that’s because the texture was unexpected. The batter was much thicker & doughier than the usual light & crisp batter used for Asian fish tempura, however, we soon became accustomed to it and actually ended up being quite partial to it!
The prawns were also of a generous size and the dipping sauce had real heat to it, for once.
The salmon tartare (£15.00), on the other hand, didn’t quite hit the spot for me, which was a real shame considering Salmontini’s focus on salmon and this being the only salmon dish that we ordered, but I felt the salmon had a chewiness to it and there were far too many chives incorporated for my liking. The citrus fruit segments beside it also put me off slightly, but obviously that’s just a personal thing. (How does everyone else feel about fruit in savoury food???)
The spicy crispy tuna salad (£16.00) was not at all what we had expected, arriving as lettuce boats containing a mountain of chopped tuna hidden beneath rice krispies. I really enjoyed these though the others found them a little bland. In fairness, I think the balance of ingredients was a little off with the lettuce unnecessary and too many rice krispies retracting from the delicacy of the tuna, which could also have done with more soy, however, it was still a fresh & tasty dish.
The rule: If black cod is on the menu, it must be ordered.
We had the miso marinated Alaskan black cod (£30.00) with starters of seaweed salad, roasted sesame seed dressing (£14.00) and grilled asparagus and ricotta stuffed aubergines, tomato chutney, walnuts (£14.00).
The seaweed salad was more of a ‘normal’ salad than a seaweed salad, with only a small pile of seaweed in the centre of the plate, but a delicious one nevertheless.
^ You can’t really go wrong with avocado and redcurrants.
The grilled asparagus and ricotta stuffed aubergines was a bit of an odd one for me, having envisaged a full aubergine exploding with ingredients rather than the measly slice surrounding a few asparagus spears. Definitely not worth the price tag, or even an order generally.
With it being the tail-end of the celebrations and the birthday girl being caked out, and me desperately needing my bed, we asked for the bill three very happy campers. Any other day of the week though and it would have been a definite case of making a beeline to the bar and lounge area, which had only grown busier & louder during our meal.
Shout out to our server, Shady (yep, I did excitedly call him Slim Shady but sadly for me I don’t think it was the first time anyone had been so hilarious), who was simply exquisite and so on the ball. It makes such a marked difference to your experience.
We booked through an Opentable 50% off food offer which has sadly now ended, which meant that it was actually a well-priced meal all things considered. But had we been paying the full price I wouldn’t have been quite so thrilled, as Salmontini’s price point is slightly above many of its competitors and I’m not convinced it’s worth it.
Still, for a change of scenery, a great atmosphere and good food, I would definitely recommend it. Plus, we didn’t order that much of the ‘specialty’ smoked salmon, and the pasta dishes looked very delicious, so who knows, maybe it was our ordering that needed improving.