Thursday 13 December 2012

#LickaBrick - Ben Spalding dinner at John Salt

There are some dishes that are so infamous they become practically legendary. Tom Kerridge's duck fat chips at the Hand and Flowers in Marlowe is one example that I have been lucky enough to experience, and Heston Blumenthal's egg and bacon icecream at The Fat Duck in Bray is another that is still on my bucket list.

Ben Spalding's chicken on a brick at John Salt in Islington is rapidly approaching that category. It seems like lately everyone I follow on Twitter has been gushing about the incredible sensory tour they had willingly subjected their tastebuds to at the skilled hands of the former Roganic head chef. Despite the ever-growing montage of caramel coated stone blocks on my Instagram feed, I felt this intriguing dish had to be seen right up close to be believed.

Thankfully my gastronomic partner in crime Selina from Yummychooeats felt the same way, and successfully secured us a mid-week dining slot at John Salt's intimate 25-seater upstairs restaurant. The date clashed with my work Christmas party at the Ministry of Sound (one of the few offices where the stories of the staff's festivities might end up gossiped about in the national newspapers as well as across the water cooler!) but I was determined to sink my teeth into the concoction that was causing such a commotion  (or rather, wipe my tongue across it!).

Depending on your appetite and your bank balance, you can join Ben on a four, eight or 12 course journey of culinary discovery. Knowing that the festive season was likely to leave us poorer than Bob Cratchett, we regretfully opted against the more scenic routes. The four course menu only cost £29.50 each, and we were amazed to discover this also included impressive nibbles both pre and post dinner, plus the most delicious array of breads I've ever tasted alongside a selection of self-salting butters. Considering that many restaurant chains charge more for a mediocre two course meal, the John Salt dining experience is an absolute steal.

Numerous writers with more refined palates and more natural eloquence than I have already described Ben's mind-blowing meals in detail, and the litany of reasons why this 6 month residency is unmissable. I will simply say that the flavour combinations were inspiring, and my trip to John Salt was one of my most enjoyable evenings out all year. Hopefully these photographs and snippets of online banter give some idea of the fun that can be had when you suspend your disbelief and #lickabrick!

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