I have been struggling to find decent tapas for quite some time so when I found out I was going to Liverpool I knew I just had to go to Salt House Tapas as I had heard great things about the food. I had no idea what to expect but the imposing listed building which houses the restaurant made a good first impression.
I never had tapas in Spain and don’t really know what traditional tapas are supposed to be like, if there is even such a definition. However, the emphasis at Salt House Tapas is delicious, expertly prepared food with fresh ingredients. They certainly delivered!
The restaurant’s layout and close tables lend a wonderful convivial atmosphere.
The eating of tapas is very much a social activity. These are little plates that are meant to be shared and enjoyed together.
Salt House Tapas has a well put-together wine list and I was tempted to order a jug of red wine sangria to share with my husband Paulo, but he really fancied a beer. He ordered the Estrella Damm draught which was served in a beautiful glass. I had a sip and it was ‘damm’ good! I regretted not getting one as well but I still had red wine on my mind. I ordered a glass of the Marques Calado Tempranillo which was fruity and sweetly spicy. I was pleased to see that it was served in a stemless wine glass. I love those and there is much less chance of knocking over your glass when you are constantly reaching to the centre of the table to get your tapas!
The tapas on the main menu are categorised as Meat, Fish and Vegetarian/Salads, which made it easy to choose from each category. We chose tapas that appealed to the both of us so we could share them. The dishes come out at different times so it’s a more communal experience to share the food rather than watching the other eat whilst you wait for your dish.
We chose three tapas from the Meat section (Salt House ribs, Ibérico ham croquettes and veal sliders), three from the Fish section (sizzling prawns, seared king scallops and fried calamari) and one from Vegetarian (fried potatoes with bravas sauce). This was a good amount for 2 people, leaving room for dessert.
The ribs were tender and covered in a sweet and spicy sauce. I thought they would be messy to eat but I was able to use my fork as the meat just fell off the bone.
My favourite dish of the evening was the Ibérico ham croquettes. The breadcrumb coating made them crispy and crunchy to the bite, followed by the soft and smooth texture of the ham and béchamel. The dish consists of four croquettes and they were so scrumptious I wanted more than two! Next time we will have to order extra and ensure it’s an even number so we don’t fight over the last one!
The portion of fried potatoes was larger than expected and came with a very good bravas sauce, although I would have liked a bit more spice to it. However, the sizzling prawns more than made up for this!
Cooked in garlic, chilli and olive oil, the prawns packed quite a punch. They were delicious but I could only manage one as the chilli was very spicy! Paulo happily ate the rest.
The veal sliders were served with a nice tomato relish on the side and the buns were soft and fresh. The veal patty was topped with caramelised onions, cheese and pancetta… a perfect little burger!
The seared king scallops with cauliflower puree, crisp cecina and PX reduction were tasty works of art. Cecina is beef that has been salted, smoked and air-dried. PX stands for Pedro Ximénez, a white Spanish wine grape. The sweet flavour of the PX reduction didn’t overpower the delicate taste of the scallops and the crispy texture of the cecina was a nice complement.
The fried calamari was served with lemon and aioli. This is a common starter in many restaurants but the squid was cut lengthwise into perfect little calamari sticks, rather than cutting it along the width to make rings.
For dessert, Paulo ordered the baked turrón cheesecake with Seville orange syrup. The sweet taste of the nougat went very well with the tangy orange syrup. I had the churros, which were dusted with cinnamon sugar and served with a pot of melted chocolate for dipping. The chocolate was of excellent quality and the churros were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, as they should be.
Overall, we really enjoyed our meal and could appreciate all the effort that goes into creating a good tapas menu.
The only thing that marred our evening was the service, which could have been more helpful and cheerful. After we were seated and given our menus we waited a long time to be acknowledged, not even eye contact or a quick word. No mention was made of the specials which we later noticed were on the board and served to people at other tables. So we missed out on that. However, the dishes came out at a good pace and at the right temperature and were served by different staff. Hopefully, this was an off-night and not an indication of their regular level of service.
The owners, managers or staff did not invite me to visit this establishment and were unaware that my experience would be the basis of a written review. It is based on my experience at my own cost and I did not receive compensation for my review.
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