THE Salt Room restaurant in Brighton, West Sussex has been named the UK winner in the 2017 Seafood Restaurant Of The Year contest.
The award, presented by Seafish and The Caterer, is designed to find the best restaurants cooking and serving delicious seafood dishes. The competition, now in its third year, was launched to highlight creative use of seafood and businesses’ knowledge of often under-used species in all types of restaurants.
Recognised for its consistently high customer service, its excellent menu and good variety of locally sourced fish species, The Salt Room was a deserving winner, xay the judges. It was praised by the judges for its innovative range of dishes and for taking steps to educate more consumers on the vast range of fish and shellfish available to diners here in the UK.
The Salt Room prides itself on only sourcing seafood from certified and responsible suppliers and serving these in innovative ways, such as whole market fish cooked over charcoal, or gurnard with Romesco sauce, octopus and green olives.
A mystery dining audit undertaken by Seafish as part of the judging process also scored The Salt Room highly with regards to staff’s familiarity and knowledge of species served, with the front of house team able to offer good advice and recommendations to diners regarding the fish and shellfish on offer.
Raz Helalat, owner of The Salt Room, 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.”
Dave Mothersill, Group Head Chef, 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, as alongside our new restaurant opening in London, the team have been working very hard and I’m really pleased for everyone involved.”
Of the five finalists, The Ninth Wave on the Isle of Mull in Argyll was Highly Commended by the judges as a very strong entry. Owners John and Carla Lamont showcase quality modern British cuisine with an eclectic twist with ingredients locally gathered from the Scottish Isles. John and Carla use home-grown produce from their croft, along with fresh-caught seafood (caught by John) and organic meats from Mull.
The 2017 judging panel included Derek Marshall, chef-owner of Gamba, Glasgow, winner of the 2015 Seafood Restaurant of the Year; Alex Aitken, chef-patron of The Jetty, Christchurch, Dorset, winner of the 2016 Seafood Restaurant of the Year; Calum Richardson, owner of The Bay Fish and Chips in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire; Giovanna Grossi, AA Group Area Manager; José Souto, Chef-Lecturer at Westminster College, London; and Paul Hurren, Managing Director of Lusso Catering, London.
As part of their prize three members of The Salt Room team will receive an all-expenses paid trip to the fishing port of Brixham, Devon where they will have the opportunity to further extend their knowledge of the catching, processing and supply of fish and shellfish.
The fur others top finalists shortlisted restaurants (in alphabetical order) were:- Ninth Wave, Isle of Mull, Argyll and Bute, Rocksalt, Folkestone, Kent, The Idle Rocks, St. Mawes, Cornwall and the Staith House, North Shields, Tyne and Wear.