John Salt

Note: Chef Neil Rankin has now left John Salt.

Ben Spalding cooked some amazing food when he was at Roganic. But a year or so into his tenancy he parted ways and headed to the kitchen of John Salt. I would have loved to try the creations Spalding came up with during his time at John Salt since his cooking was sublime. But this was not to be, as he didn’t stay on for very long. Hard to say what happened, but he seemingly did not part on good terms. Anyway it matters not because new Chef Neil Rankin has come into the kitchen with all guns blazing to create an electrifying menu with a Korean twist. Chef Rankin use to be the head chef at Pitt & Cue, receiving rave reviews in the process. I never got to try his cooking at Pitt & Cue on account of being deterred by the queues, so I was really looking forward to this experience.

John Salt has a punchy vibe to it. The restaurant use to be a bar, and the long bar area on the ground floor remains with some tables dotted around. Upstairs on the mezzanine level there is a quieter dining area. The restaurant has an industrial feel to it and the space suits the boldness of the menu.

We started with a cod with foie gras sauce and blood orange (£7) that was beautifully cooked. The sauce was wonderfully rich and smooth, even if it was a little salty. The blood orange added an interesting citric twist to the dish and worked really well in binding all the elements of the dish into something harmonious.

Cod, foie gras sauce, blood orange

Cod, foie gras sauce, blood orange

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72 Hours in Madrid – Part Three: La Gabinoteca

Following on from Part Two

La Gabinoteca serves food in a tapas style but is far removed from your traditional tapas restaurants. I know I covered tapas places in Part one of my ’72 Hours in Madrid’ blog post, but La Gabinoteca deserves a mention all on its own. It was just that good. Anthony Bourdain featured it in his Madrid episode of No Reservations, but independent research on various food forums reveal that some suggest that it is worthy of the best tapas title in Madrid. I can’t possibly judge that, not having eaten at every tapas place in Madrid, but one does walk away with a feeling of being wowed by an experience that is so inventive, so complex and yet so simple at the same time.

The restaurant is the younger and less formal sibling of Las Tortillas de Gabino, a restaurant which has received a lot of critical acclaim. It is the brainchild of brothers Nino and Santi Redruello whose family of restaurateurs are responsible for La Ancha, a well known restaurant in Madrid.

The décor at La Gabinoteca was interesting to say the least. The restaurant is split into two levels with the more casual-bar dining area being downstairs. There is an eclectic mix of furniture including high chairs; low chairs as well as a ski lift (yes a ski lift). It was fun, quirky and arresting, and gave you lots of interesting décor points to talk about.

The menu is split into four sections: appetisers, meat, fish and desserts and the restaurant recommends you choose at least one from each section.

A dish of patatas bravas with octopus and a spicy salsa (€5.15) was tasty and comforting. The hint of spiciness in the sauce added a kick to the dish.

Patatas bravas & octopus

Patatas bravas & octopus

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