Restaurant Review: Salt coolest lunch on a hot summer’s day

An extremely hot summer’s day, as well as a mouth feel urgently requiring crayfish, beckoned the writer to Salt restaurant in the Ambassador Hotel in Bantry Bay, which has been running a crayfish special at R 185 with its sister restaurant OYO in the V&A Hotel for a while now.   There was no cooler way to escape from the heat than lunch at Salt.

Parking is uncomplicated, either across the road from the hotel, or on its roof, and is complimentary if one eats at the hotel.   As the restaurant hostess sat at the computer, meaning that she had her back turned to the restaurant entrance, she did not see the customer arriving.  A yawning waitress attended to the guest but had to go to the hostess to decide which of the many tables could be allocated (only 5 tables in total were occupied)! The waiter Michael came to the rescue, and seated the customer at a table with a lovely cool breeze, and wonderful view onto the ocean.   Later on, the sliding doors were opened completely, and an even cooler breeze cooled one down.   The protective glass barrier can barely be seen, and it looks as if one is sitting at the edge of the door, making this restaurant one of the most spectacular in terms of its location, view and ocean smell.

Michael efficiently took the order for a glass of Colmant Tradition bubbly, at R 59, and agreed to organise that the ordered crayfish be served cold rather than hot.   Cold water was brought to the table regularly, and while the wait for the crayfish was long at 45 minutes, it was worth every minute.  Six small tails of crayfish were served with the most delicious jasmine rice (a bowl of chips was initially brought to the table in error, and one cannot imagine that the restaurant would serve chips with crayfish) and a salad (the only odd ingredient was mozarella cheese, which clashed with the crayfish), and a piquant mayonnaise, a little too strong.  It was the perfect Saturday afternoon lunch.

Other lunch options are salads (caesar salad at R 55); three pasta dishes ranging from R 70 – R 80; four seafood options (mussels R 70, squid R 95, fish and chips at R 115, and fish of the day R 120);  five meat dishes (including burger R 65, chicken schnitzel R 80, and rib-eye steak R 125); and desserts cost about R 55, the most expensive being a three-variation creme brulee at R 85.

The bill was brought to the table efficiently, and Michael was the perfect waiter – no small talk, efficiently answering questions and executing requests.  What is missing is the personal touch – no Manager appeared to be on duty, to check one’s satisfaction with the meal.  This is what differentiates a hotel restaurant from a stand-alone one.

The new chef at Salt restaurant at the Ambassador Hotel, Top 10 chef Jacques de Jager, who recently moved from Grande Provence in Franschhoek, has not yet made himself felt, in that the existing menu is still used.   His new dinner menu will be launched tomorrow evening.   According to Michael, the menu will be in the French cuisine style.

Salt restaurant, Ambassador Hotel, 34 Victoria Road, Bantry Bay. tel 021 439-7258,  http://www.newmarkhotels.com/newmark/salt 

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com

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