Congratulations go to The Salt Room in Brighton for winning the 2017 Seafish Restaurant of the Year competition organised by The Caterer in association with Seafish UK.
The competition, which is now in its third year, was launched to highlight great use of seafood and businesses’ knowledge of often under-used products, in all types of restaurants.
Special recognition went to The Salt Room for its consistently high customer service, its excellent menu and good variety of locally sourced fish species. The Salt Room reaped praise from the judges for its innovative dishes and for taking risks to educate more consumers on the vast range of fish and shellfish available.
An independent mystery audit produced by Seafish UK as part of the judging process also scored the Salt Room highly with regards to it’s staff’s familiarity and knowledge of species served with the front of house team able to offer good advice and recommendations.
Co-Chair of the judging panel and products and suppliers’ editor of The Caterer Lisa Jenkins explained that “part of the Salt Room’s success is its simplicity. From the outside you would assume you were walking into a simple brasserie, but the dishes will blow you away. These can range from cured mackerel, fennel and kimchi mayo for lunch to octopus, cocoa beans, pancetta, seaweed and spiced gilt head bream, cucumber chutney and yoghurt, for dinner.”
Surprised by the result, owner Raz Helalat, who has recently opened another restaurant at One Tower Bridge in London, alongside Brighton’s sister resturant The Coal Shed, said: “This result was completely unexpected and makes all the hard work from the team this year so worthwhile. It’s been a real group effort and an amazing 2017.”
Group Head Chef Dave Mothersill, added: “I didn’t think we would win – it’s an honour to simply be in the top five. But now we have I’m super happy. It’s perfect timing to receive this award alongside our new opening in London, the team have been working very hard and I’m really pleased for everyone involved.”
The judging panel for the 2017 competition was made up of Derek Marshall, chef-owner of Gamba, winner of the 2015 Restaurant of the Year; Alex Aitken, chef-patron of The Jetty, Christchurch, Dorset, winner of the 2016 Restaurant of the Year; Calum Richardson, owner of the Bay Fish and Chips in Aberdeenshire; Giovanna Grossi, AA group area manager; José Souto, chef-lecturer at Westminster College, London and Paul Hurren, managing director of Lusso Catering.
Grossi, who has been judging the competition from it’s conception, commented: “The competition was hard to call this year, as we had five very different restaurants in our shortlist. We would encourage them all to enter again, and continue to raise the profile of restaurants serving seafood in the UK.”
Three members of the team at The Salt Room are due to receive an all-expenses paid trip to the fishing docks of Brixham, where they will have the opportunity to extend their knowledge of the catching, processing and supply of seafood, whilst each top-five finalist is also awarded with vouchers from uniform supplier Russums.
Andy Gray, marketing manager of Seafish UK, said: “We are delighted to support and promote the Restaurant of the Year awards. It’s genuinely inspirational to be among such talented seafood ambassadors. Seafood really is centre stage right now and the lowest carbon footprint of any protein, with unique nutritional benefits – it’s healthy, clean and green.”
If you haven’t been to The Salt Room yet, then this surely will motivate you to get yourself a booking. That’s if it’s not booked up for months to come…