A Chip Off The Old Block | Vintage Salt, Dashwood House, 69 Old Broad Street, London EC2M 1QS
We seem to be on a roll at the moment. Vintage Salt provided another successful restaurant outing with barely anything to moan about. Des McDonald (former head chef at The Ivy and consultant extraordinaire) has three branches of Vintage Salt. Which, in case you don’t know, were previously called The Fish And Chip Shop. They recently rebranded following the success of the Selfridges rooftop pop-up of the same name.
To be honest, I’m not that big on seafood, or fish and chips for that matter. But I know a man who is… Whenever my dad comes to visit us in Kent he always opts for a takeaway from the chippy across the road in favour of my food.
Easier for me I guess, but I think I prefer my mediocre cooking to bland tasteless beige food. That’s unless I’m at the seaside then somehow it tastes a whole lot better. I should really leave the ‘vintage’ jokes alone but my dad likes salt too – at Vintage Salt what could go wrong?
After a quick scan of the menu I realised that it isn’t just about fish. Despite the menu being short, there is wide variety of choice, meat included. Whoop!
I met my dad after he’d finished a photography job in St Paul’s, we eventually found each other at the restaurant after both of us managed to get lost. Not even Google Maps could point me in the right direction, the restaurant is so hidden away.
I soon deflusteded (yes, a made up word) with a fruity Spring Fling (£8) cocktail and a quiet seat at the chef’s table away from the hustle and bustle. The city location attracts a noisy crowd and there was not one but three leaving parties going on. Quite apt that the glassware was the same that I had growing up and that my dad still has in his kitchen.
The chef’s table was great apart from the shelves next to us cluttered with items that belonged in an out of sight storage cupboard or like my dad suggested, behind a curtain. Plus the lighting was super bright which is brilliant for taking photos but not for regular people. Perhaps they boost the lighting for bloggers?
A special shout out to our waiter Adam, who was also the manager. What a superstar, he knew everything and was one of those super enthusiastic people that makes me feel like an utterly miserable person. I wish I had an ounce of what he has. He could recite the process of how the chef makes the pies, to how old the vines are for the refreshingly enjoyable Vintage Salt English Sparkling wine (£9 a glass). I don’t normally go for bubbles but this was very drinkable.
He didn’t even seem annoyed when a cheeky customer asked for a bottle of wine on the house because they had to wait for their food. It upset me that there’s probably loads of customers like this who don’t appreciate good staff, or good food for that matter. And people slag off bloggers? Anyway…
A major first happened. I got my dad to actually read a menu. He hates menus and never looks at them, preferring to get the waiter’s recommendation. He went for the Scotched hen’s egg with piccalilli (£6.50) to start. The first time he’s had a ‘modern’ scotch egg, I guess they’re not that popular in Surrey or perhaps it’s because he doesn’t read menus… A perfectly assembled and cooked egg with delicious homemade piccalilli arrived, they need to bottle this stuff, I’d buy it.
My Salt and pepper squid with chilli jam (£9) was hot in both temperature and flavour, a huge portion too. I could slice through it with one swift move of the knife. The chilli jam was sweet and gorgeous, again I wanted to bring some back home.
I originally boasted that morning that I’d already chosen what I was going to eat from the menu. But then Adam listed the specials and it threw me into all kinds of a quandary. I couldn’t decide between the Braised beef pie, mash and liquor (£13.75) and the special of Mussels in a Rogan Josh sauce (£12.50).
What to do when you can’t decide? Have both. I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing by the way, but my arm was twisted. Adam said he’d bring a few mussels for me to try but it looked like I was given a full portion, they are only small though…
Dad of course had the Camden Hells fried fish and chips (£11) with a side of Mushy peas (£2.50) – this was why I bought him here after all. When he was halfway through we realised we didn’t actually know what fish it was, we suspected cod. Whatever it was, it was succulent and flaky and the batter golden and crunchy, just like the chips. Better than my local chippy any day. He mentioned that like me, he doesn’t usually like tartare sauce but he liked VS’s version.
Oh the pie! I thought I’d had the best pie of my life up in Edinburgh at Scran and Scallie but this topped it. An amazing shiny short crust pastry (always tastier than puff) with a hearty beef and onion filling. The liquor was good too – the last time I had it I could taste nothing but mildy flavoured water.
God I wish I could have finished this perfect pie but I had mussels to get through yet and my dad was too full to help me out. I’ve not had mussels in Rogan Josh sauce before but it really worked, very autumnal and comforting and perfect for dipping the chips in the bottom of the bowl.
We were granted a break before dessert, I needed a kip or a stroll around the block to work it all off. My dad went for the seasonal and not so light Apple and blackberry pie (£5.50) which defeated him, I think I overwhelmed him with food. I stuck with my pre-planned choice of Lemon posset and shortbread (£5.50), if there’s a posset or creme brûlée on a menu then I am all over it. I’d normally complain that there’s not enough biscuit to go with it but I almost had too much with this one.
My dad hates ‘crap coffee’ so fully approved of his Cappuccino (£2.50) using Ozone beans. I soothed my belly with some Rare Tea Lady White Peony tea (£4). Adam knew all about her story too of course, he’s like a walking encyclopaedia (that’s like Google for anyone under the age of 25 reading this.)
Enough about Adam. Thumbs up to you Vintage Salt, I know you’re just doing your job properly but you’d be amazed how many restaurants aren’t. What a great plaice (sorry).
Dashwood House, 69 Old Broad Street,
London EC2M 1QS
Opening hours: Mon – Fri 8am – 10:30pm
Happy Hour 5pm – 7pm daily
Book a table online
Nearest station: Liverpool Street (1 min walk)
We ate as guests of Vintage Salt, this does not affect our review in any way. We always write with complete honesty.