Richard Miller discovers there's more beyond the beer taps
SALT Bar & Kitchen is massive. It’s a vast hangar of a place, and, with its equally cavernous Beer Factory bit tagged onto the back, part of me – the hungry part – has a nagging worry that the focus here might be more on boozy 'bar' than culinary 'kitchen'. Nope, I’m not sure about this. Still, as well as the beer - and of that there is plenty - there are apparently fifty gins on offer too, so if the food’s pants, we can at least take the edge off by getting blotto.
There’s always space for something deep-fried and salty with a cold beer or glass of wine
Spying ‘carbonara pizza’ on a menu does nothing to soothe my anxiety. Fortunately, although a little confusingly, this particular menu’s only available in the back where, tonight, there’s a brass band blowing their horns with clanking tuns on one side and a merch store on the other; a handy addition should you need a reminder the morning after of where it was you obtained your head-throbbing hangover. Like I say, the place is huge.
The proper dining section is upstairs at the front, above the bar and a TV streaming Sky Sports News. Rejoice, there are no weird pizzas here, just normal ones that look pretty good actually, as they’re distributed around the drinking masses downstairs. The rest of the menu is a safe mixture of pub standards and more spruced-up dishes, and our starters make for effective beer-ballast.
An orb of ham hock and cheddar potato cake (£5.75) could do with a scrunch more salt, but otherwise it’s been loaded generously and the blobs of kinda-piccalilli puree add a spiky sharpness to the earthy spud. A tank-fresh pint of Salt’s own gulpable Jute sees it down nicely; available in fancy cans too, of course.
Resembling a trio of flaccid fishfingers and looking as though they’ve been chucked onto the plate from a great height, a portion of mushroom and broccoli croquettes (£5.50) are, in spite of appearances, a moreish snack full of molten bechamel and vegetable crunch. The blue cheese sauce we dredge them through has punch without being overpowering. Plating’s a tad care-free, but this is some tasty snap.
Somebody with a knowing hand on the pan has cooked a chunky slab of cod with skill and precision (£16). Pearlescent and tender, it’s impressive enough for me to turn a blind eye to the fridge-cold dollop of ratatouille-esque vegetables accompanying it. Nice on their own, bit weird with hot fish. A forkful of crispy, salty ham with meaty cod is, of course, a lovely thing.
A brie-stuffed wodge of chicken (hello, old friend) has been similarly well tended, and – yes, we’re partying like it’s 1997 – we nerd out over the scattering of sweet sun-dried tomatoes that add bursts of lightness and tang to a rich, homely dish (£13). I predict a resurgence.
The hot, crisp fries and hot, crisp onion rings (£2.50 a pop) that we down as sides confirm that no matter how full I am there’s always space for something deep-fried and salty with a cold beer or glass of wine.
Opened back in January, Salt Bar & Kitchen is Ossett Brewery’s foray into the shiny world of craft beer. I’m a fan of the traditional old boozers that they also run, where the closest thing I’ve ever had to à la carte dining is a clingfilmed pork pie with a pint of stout, and although what we’ve eaten tonight isn’t going to bother the Michelin mob anytime soon, there’s something pleasing about going out for some gussied-up pub grub where the food’s designed for appetite not Insta and where I don’t have to iron a shirt in order to attend.
Yep, I’ll go back here. I’ll drink more of their beer and scarf one of their pizzas. Not the weird carbonara one, of course, but something standard issue that we all know and prefer, because Salt Bar & Kitchen is good at the simple and satisfying.
Salt Bar & Kitchen, 199 Bingley Road, Saltaire, BD18 4DH
All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidential and completely independent of any commercial relationship. Venues are rated against the best examples of their type: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: Netflix and chill, 10-11: if you're passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: cooked by God him/herself.
Potato cake 6, croquettes 7, cod 8, chicken 7
Friendly and functional
Down in the bar the beers are flowing