Things I learnt this week: Selfridges has a pop-up restaurant on its roof every year. To get to said pop-up restaurant you do not go to the food court on the top floor of the store, but instead have to find the secret lift next to Chanel (that's Chanel's fragrance counter, not the handbags) which whisks you off to the roof. A very friendly lady (wo)mans the lift to ensure you end up at the right place. When you emerge, you are greeted by this...
Vintage Salt is the third al fresco pop-up restaurant launched by Des McDonald, who was once Head Chef of the Ivy - serious credentials then. This year's incarnation is inspired by a traditional Cornish fishing village, with the menu and decor exactly what you'd expect from the British seaside. And bearing in mind the British weather, the restaurant has a retractable pop-up roof and sides, to ensure that diners stay dry no matter what.
We went for dinner on Friday evening, and unfortunately, after a glorious week, the weather decided to go all autumnal on us. But despite the fact we had to dine under the roof, the atmosphere was still pretty relaxed and it did genuinely feel like we'd taken a mini break to Cornwall for the evening.
The menu reflects the theme, with plenty of good British classics on it, such as fish and chips, kedgeree and lamb chops. Being a pregnant pig, I was more than taken with one of the day's specials, namely the Atlantic prawn and pink grapefruit salad...
I would actually go as far to say this was my favourite dish - it was huge for a starter (maybe it wasn't actually meant to be a starter - whoops) and anything with chicory in it always gets a huge thumbs up from me. I wolfed this down while my non-pregnant friends Susie and Vicky sat and drank their wine (only fair).
For mains, we all ordered the same, the dry aged beef burger. We had a bit of a giggle over the descriptions of all the dishes, deciding that 'dry aged beef burger' wouldn't sound nearly as appealing if it was just 'beef burger', and the same for 'minted jersey royals' and 'heritage carrots' (what is a heritage carrot exactly? don't all carrots have predecessor carrots?).
However, when our burgers arrived, we decided they did indeed deserve their fancy name. The smoked cheddar was full of flavour but not too strong, the relish was in fact a wonderfully barbecuey ketchup and the guacamole was the perfect 'side'. Susie and Vicky also treated themselves to truffled chips (these were yum, I nicked a few) while I had a pleasingly tart tomato salad.
Proper green tomatoes!
We were all thoroughly stuffed after our meal (me even more so, as you can imagine) but decided to round off the evening with some ice-cream which was perfectly pleasing, if not mindblowing. For those with more space left in their stomachs, the intriguing 'chocolate burger' - at one point wrongly delivered to our table - looked far more memorable.
Service was attentive but a little slow, and the place was as packed as you'd expect for a Friday evening. I was actually pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food and even though I still think eating in a department store restaurant will always feel a little canteen-like, I would actually pop back for lunch if I was on Oxford Street and wanted something a little more inspiring than the usual fare.
Vintage Salt is open Mon-Sat 11am-11pm, Sun Noon-6pm and takes bookings on the Selfridges website >