Salt Yard is an “award winning modern tapas restaurant focussing on the best of Spain and Italy”. The group behind it also own Dehesa and Opera Tavern, where we had brilliant meals in the past, so I thought here would be a good choice for dinner with my parents.
The ground floor dining room was really lovely and buzzy. Sadly we were taken down to the basement which wasn’t quite so. It had all the charm and charisma of a Slug and Lettuce. The atmosphere wasn’t helped by the lack of music and a large group having a work do in the middle of the room; it felt like we were in their private dining room. It was a horrible place to sit.
Whilst we perused the menu we ordered a few bar snacks to perk us up. I begrudged having to order the chargrilled country style bread (Â£2.95) as it was just some grilled sliced white bread. Who charges for bread these days? And the little pot of olive oil was far too small.
The padron peppers (Â£4.25) were well seasoned and delicious but the portion was a little on the measly side. The quails’ eggs (Â£3.85) came cold, hard boiled and half shelled. They were tasty when dunked in the little mound of salt provided but getting the other half of the shell off was nothing short of impossible. Too much hassle for me.
Courgette flowers stuffed with goats cheese and drizzled with honey (Â£7.95) at least had crispy batter but the honey overpowered any goats cheese flavour – I even wondered if they’d forgotten to stuff them with any.
The jamon croquetas with Manchego (Â£6.25) had a crisp exterior with a soft gooey middle but they lacked the real flavour of ham that I’d hoped for.
The confit old spot pork belly with rosemary scented cannellini beans (Â£7.25) was cooked really well; finally something we liked! The pork was tender and the fat was proper crispy.
The under blade fillet of beef (Â£8.95) was cooked rare yet was soft as butter. The whole thing lacked any real flavour however. The classic tortilla (Â£4.25) although underseasoned, had a gooey yolk running through the centre which was clever and most enjoyable.
The crispy baby squid was a crowd pleaser as the batter remained crisp whilst encasing soft succulent squid. The patatas fritas (Â£3.75) were basically underseasoned, soggy chips but at least the accompanying bravas and aioli dips provided flavour.
The best thing I ate was the truffled macaroni cheese (Â£8.50) which was really rich and gooey with plenty of truffle flavouring throughout. The topping however lacked crunch.
There was only one dessert that appealed; the Churros with chocolate sauce (Â£5.95). The long sticks of batter had been deep fried to perfection giving a crisp exterior with a light fluffy centre. The choc sauce was thick and so good that I actually drank what was leftover!
The tapas we sampled were a little hit and miss and when the bill was produced it was a stark reminder that Salt Yard is far from cheap. Throw in service and a bottle of plonk and the result is enough to make your eyes water. A previous visit to Opera Tavern was equally as pricey but the food felt value for money – here we left feeling like we’d been robbed. And that basement dining room was simply awful.