Jacqui – Preview
There seem to be plenty of restaurant openings to get excited about in Oxford at the moment, Pint Shop, Spiced Roots (more to come) and of course SeaSalt. The next adventure for La Cucina owners Yola Drage and Alberto Brunelli, SeaSalt in St. Clements looks light, clean and airy since it’s cool grey refurb, a simple but very effective change from the darker hues of the restaurant’s days as Fishers.
Yola and Alberto plan to open fully from Tuesday, after a soft launch last night and this evening – Becca is there as I type this, full report below! Expect a changeable menu, 2/3 daily specials and a lunchtime deal, with a focus on seasonal and quality ingredients. Don’t forget parking IS available in St Clements car park.
Becca – Soft Launch
Oh my word, it’s good! Okay, this was a soft launch and so you expect that they’re going to be on their very best behaviour and really showcasing the quality of their dishes but I’m confident that Seasalt will maintain their pretty high standards in the days to come.
They knew we were coming but all the guests there received the same level of attentiveness and service – the staff were lovely to everyone. On being seated we were presented with a basket of bread, the seeded loaf being particularly good, with tapas dishes of olives and anchovies. I have lingering memories of bad anchovies, tinned, slimy, hairy and these were nothing like this and I would happily have eaten more.
A reduced menu gave us a choice of three starters; moules mariniere, cods tongues or for non fish eater, crispy Camcmbert wedge. We opted for the moules, a large portion in a delicately flavoured broth with garlic bread and the cods tongues. I’ve had ducks tongues in the past (never again) and had sworn off all mouth appendages but argued with myself that I was pretty sure fish didn’t actually have tongues! I knew I liked cod cheeks so this couldn’t be that bad, right? Turned out that cod tongues are a little flappy bit of flesh at the back of its mouth so now I’d learnt something. Small pieces of moist white fish, flavoured with kaffir lime and chilli they were lovely.
Main courses included the line caught haddock and chips, a generous portion of fish in a light batter with proper chips. Steak, again for those non fish eaters, this was a grilled dry aged sirloin and I managed to see one on a nearby table – the diner liked her steak the way I like mine, blue and this looked pretty damn good! A seasonal special which was tranche of salmon with new potatoes and Hollandaise or fritto misto which I ordered. A basket of deep fried and lightly battered fishy goodness, there was whitebait, whiting, king prawns, calamari and a lemon mayonnaise. Hot, crispy and very well done.
The boozy trifle went down very well with my trifle aficionado and I have to admit that I was defeated by the chocolate mousse slice! A very impressive start and I’m very much looking forward to a return visit.
Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 11am – 10pm. Closed Mondays