“ Portland Street, Aberystwyth, Dyfed. SY23 2DX. Tel: 01970 623318 „
SALT is a chain of 3 bar & restaurants in the coastal cities of Swansea, Cardiff and Aberystwyth.
The theme of the SALT bar is blue and nautical. The restuarant is large and light with a high ceiling and upstairs dining area that opens up the restaurant. Immediately as you enter is the well lit bar, to the left are the stairs to the upstairs dining and toilets, and to the right are two tables surrounded by comfortable circular 360 degree brown sofas and several more bar-stooled tables.
There are nice touches in the look of the restaurant, such as the use of drift wood in the lighting and decoration, and the intricate blue, fairytale style railings on the staircase and upstairs balcony. Overall it is pretty stylish.
The menu looks like a typical fold-out chain restaurant menu (e.g. Wetherspoons, TGI Friday's). They serve food at lunch and dinner, and all dishes are available all day.
The range of food is typical brasserie stuff, with starters like soup, nachos, tempura prawns and fishcakes. Mains included some salads and pasta, burgers, steak, sausage and mash, chilli, risotto fish and chips. Only 4 regular desserts were on the menu (ice-cream, spotted dick, sticky toffee and chocolate cake), but with one dessert on the specials board to complement (cheesecake when I went).
The range isn't outstanding, and the dishes weren't inspiringly original, but this is not what you expect of this sort of chain and I admired their attempt to use fish on many parts of the menu which fits with their location and image.
The quality of the food was good. I had a roasted pumpkin and butternut squash soup with bread to start - the soup was a beautiful orange, thick, hot and pungently sweet. My mum had the tempura prawns, and the portion was a little stingy though she said they tasted good.
I then had the fish and chips, which was decent. The fish was quite large, the batter not too thick and stodgy and the peas it came with were frozen and popping green, not tinned, moss-coloured and soggy like some cheap pubs. I dont remember the chips very well, so I'm sure they were fine, but again not incredible.
The prices are usual, £3.95 for a bowl of soup, £6.95 for fish and chips and £3.95 for most desserts. Some dishes (such as my mum's prawns at £4.95 for very few) are a little overpriced, while some seemed very good (£5.95 for a burger and fries). The side dishes are quite reasonable (just 99p for fries, and £1.20 for garlic focaccia) and the most expensive dish was an 8oz rump steak for £9.95.
Drinks were again average prices, with £1.95 for a latte.
The staff were generally friendly. Though you order at the bar (and waiting behind the midday drinkers is never as enjoyable as being asked for your order in the comfort of your own 360 degree sofa), my experience was good. The tables were clean as we arrived. The waiter didn't seem too prepared for conversation, but he was by far more eloquent than Wetherspoon's staff. The waitress told us that they receive their tips and spend them on a night out, which always reassuring to know.
SALT has an obvious location on the high street between the station and the sea front, which means you will probably walk past it without making an effort which is nice.
This is a decent chain, up-market from Spoon's, but still well priced and a pleasant place to sit and eat in Aber. Unfortunately, it is much brighter than many of the other local individual restuarants, which in some ways is a shame as I like to buy local when I can.