Update - December 2012 - Ben Spalding has now left John Salt; the new head chef is Neil Rankin (@Frontlinechef) formerly of Pitt Cue. I've tasted his food several times, and I can't wait to see what he'll do with John Salt!
Ben Spalding is a chef who is closely associated with the current pop-up food movement in London, both as the former head chef at Roganic, and as a regular guest at events like Passage to Persia, The Burnt Enz & Homeslice Pizza Party, and the Feast First night market. Now he's found a more permanent home in the new John Salt bar in Islington, so it's 'not a pop-up' but it definitely deserves to be listed here.
"This November sees the opening of John Salt, a new neighbourhood bar in Islington.
580 Ltd, the independent pub company behind The Owl and Pussycat in Shoreditch and The Fellow in King's Cross, have joined forces with rising star, chef Ben Spalding (ex head chef of Roganic, and chef de partie at Gordan Ramsay’s flagship 3 Michelin starred Chelsea restaurant) to open a 25 seat restaurant overlooking the main bar.
“John Salt will feature serious cooking using rare ingredients” says Spalding, who will use this opportunity to showcase a style of cooking he has honed over the last few years.
Guests can expect Spalding's "chicken on a brick" - a London house brick coated in a caramel glaze, pairing chicken liver mousse with crispy chicken skin, circled by a mix of sweetcorn kernels, lingon berries, pearl barley and a white onion puree. This combination is so delicious, down to the glaze that, as Ben Spalding says “customers are encouraged to actually lick the brick”
With tasting menus of 4,8 or 12 courses served above on the mezzanine, the main bar below will have it’s own food, giving an insight into what’s happening above. Expect salt marsh lamb wraps, crispy chicken skin sandwiches and a range of vegetarian options, all cooked and delivered live in front of the guests downstairs, where John Salt will have a warehouse feel, stripped, simple, open, yet warm.
Whilst 580 embark on their deepest culinary venture yet, they haven’t forgotten their roots. As an evening at John Salt progresses, this company’s rich musical heritage and honest love of hosting truly exciting and unforgettable nights will come into play, as the bar comes to life.
As ever, the music is a central element of a night with 580, taking the evening to night in the caring hands of the company behind Camden's Lock Tavern and the Field Day and Beacons Festivals
The London crew Soulshakers will be taking control of the cocktail menu, and the draught range has been carefully selected to showcase some of the finest of the new wave of local, national and global breweries.
The menus will all constantly evolve, and customers can expect a different experience with every visit.
Whilst they want to embrace and showcase creativity - to do something special - 580 say simply that they want to open “A neighbourhood bar, with good beer”"
When - Opens 9th November
Where - John Salt, 131 Upper Street, Islington, London N1 1QP
Link 1 - John Salt
Link 2 - John Salt on Twitter
Link 3 - Ben Spalding on Twitter