Salt of the earth – by Julie Burchill

Julie Burchill finds herself indecently attracted to new Brighton restaurant, the Salt Room

I probably use the word PARASEXUAL too much; Googling my name and the word, I came up with a long list of things I find to be so, including feuding, shoplifting, being monstered on the Internet and having a mate cancel a social engagement at the last minute.

I find restaurants EXTREMELY parasexual. Paradoxically, I don’t find food at all sexy, or comforting, or any of the things other porkers do; I’m one of those fat birds who only eats when happy, which is why I’ve ended up a size 20 after twenty years of a very pleasurable marriage. But restaurants…that’s another story.

[two_third]Think about it. You pick one you like the look of. You arrive, a little nervous but full of pleasant anticipation. A drink, and you’re starting to relax. Two drinks, and this seems like the place you were always meant to be. The talk is swift and witty, laughter shimmers; wine glugs… you’re in love. And OK, then you get the bill, have a crafty fag outside and are sick in a handy waste-bin – ah, it was a good metaphor for dating while it lasted.[/two_third]


But there are SO MANY RESTAURANTS – and so little time. How do you know when it’s right to settle down with just one? Well, a hint could have been that the first time my study-mate Karl and I went to the Salt Room, we booked a table every week for the foreseeable future.

Everything about the Salt Room appears, even after six visits, perfect. It’s rather industrial – but a bit glitzy. Very modern – but a tad retro.

If restaurants are stylish, they often aren’t fun and if they ARE fun, it’s easy to end up with a paper parasol perched behind your ear, mainlining sticky blue cocktails and jumping up on a chair to sing ‘Hey Big Spender!’ any time a sort strolls in, neither of which options is really desirable.

Somehow the Salt Room manages to be both, providing adult fun (that sex metaphor again!) for the jaded palate.

The location is lovely – I do like a room with a view, and this one looks out over Metropole Beach, with big French windows which will open out onto a raised level come summer.

[pullquote]And at the risk of being pervy, I could live in the toilets, which are done out like a high-end ‘80s NYC disco.[/pullquote]
The main courses are playful without being petulant – a shrimp and crab burger, a cauliflower cheese with violet mustard and truffle.

It’s hard to imagine food being fancy and straightforward at the same time, but somehow the Salt Room pulls it off.

Me being me, I’m very afraid I was more interested in the cocktail menu, and I wasn’t disappointed.

My study-mate and I have been fans of the Italian digestif Fernet Branca for some time, to the incomprehension of our Significant Others (it’s quite strong and bitter), and were delighted to find it on the cocktail menu as an ingredient of the Hanky Spanky, of which we consumed a whopping EIGHT between us in one sitting.


But the rhinestone jewel in the carnival crown is the magnificently imagined Taste Of The Pier dessert sharing plate – Candy Floss, Salt caramel and Chocolate “99”, Rum & Coconut Marshmallows, Doughnuts, Pebbles and honeycomb.

To return to my parasexual theme, I’ve often marveled at those strange women who become betrothed to inanimate objects – cars, trees, fairground rides. But if I HAD to marry a restaurant, forsaking all others, it would most definitely be the Salt Room.

About Julie Burchill
The queen of the quip needs no introduction. Julie Burchill has been writing since she could sashay, and her career as an international journalist and serial agitator resonates with aplomb. We count ourselves lucky to have her on the team