“Obviously someone with a good eye for design has pulled this space together. There’s lots of rustic-style wood, aubergine-coloured walls and soft, funky lighting – all adding up to a cosy, inviting look and feel to the place.
The shelves are well stocked with an interesting variety of dry deli goods to buy, and there are a couple of huge refrigerated displays groaning with locally sourced cheeses, cooked meats, and my favourite – the cake section. Who could resist Pistachio, lemon and rose cake? Or Hazelnut, espresso and amaretto cake?
Head chef Gary (you might know him from ‘Home Sweet Home in Manchester) has brought along trusted chefs Pete and Declan to make up the kitchen team. Together with Rocksalt owners Gina and Arthur, they’ve created a menu that they think will appeal to pretty much everyone: it’s based on top quality ingredients (locally sourced wherever possible), worked into tried and trusted recipes, with influences from around the world. You’ll find a Mediterranean vibe in the pasta and squid dishes, a touch of the deep south in the buttermilk chicken and a little bit of Stateside in the burgers and hotdogs.
First off we got happily stuck into Salt and Pepper Squid, Chicken Wings (two varieties: hot and not so hot) and Halloumi Bruschetta. These starter-sized dishes were perfect for sharing (four was more than enough) or even as a lightish lunch for two. Julie loved the chicken and the squid but my favourite was the Halloumi Bruschetta: perfect combo of crispiness and chewiness, with a lovely bit of tang in the balsamic dressing. To wash it down we plumped for a glass of Fernlands New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc at a very reasonable £6 for a large glass.
Next we moved onto some more substantial dishes – we shared Linguine with Tomato and Chorizo sauce, Buttermilk Fried Chicken and a Philli Steak Burger. Each was served piping hot and clearly fresh from the pan/grill. We genuinely loved them all: the pasta sauce was rich and smoky-spicy and the chicken was tender with a light and bubbly coating. But the star of the show was undoubtedly the Philli Burger. Whoever thought of this combo of moist chunky burger and tender grilled steak deserves a medal! Served with deliciously crunchy, spicy fries it was just perfect. ‘How can they handle a pud’ you may ask? How could we not, we answer! But hey ho, we managed a dainty Crème Brũlēe, just for the sweet sensation. It too was lovely: rich and creamy with a perfect crisp, sugary lid.
All in all, a very happy experience: interesting, comfortable surroundings; great food and a friendly atmosphere. Perfect!