Well-known British chef (and Gordon Ramsay protégé) Angela Harnett once said: “The sign of a good restaurant is when it takes you ages to decide what to have” – something you will most certainly relate to when you dine at this rather lovely small-plates joint on the Kalk Bay strip because everything on the delicious chalkboard menu sounds divine. Conceived, owned and run by 24-year-old Nic Macleod, who is as hospitable as he is unflappable, Salt finds itself next door to one of our perennial favourites, Olympia Café. Fortunately for us, Nic was on hand to give us an omakase-style tour of his tasty menu.
“I was inspired by the Cape’s history as a trading post,” explains Nic, “when ships would arrive at the Cape of Good Hope, bringing with them exotic flavours and influences.” As such, Salt’s menu is an eclectic mash-up of global tastes and textures, featuring the likes of ceviche with lemon, grapefruit and honey (South America), Bánh mì pork belly with a soy reduction, slaw and coriander (Vietnam and Germany), curried lentils with pickled beetroot and chermoula croutons (India, Korea and Morocco), wasabi-dusted calamari with lemon and chilli (Greece and Japan), Chalmar sirloin with pebre salsa and patatas bravas (Spain), and Bratwurst roti with homemade kimchi and sriracha mustard (Germany, India, Korea and Thailand).
“I’ve taken elements of cuisines I like, and mixed them together,” says Nic. “I don’t dig Bratwurst on its own, for example, so I changed it up, by putting it in a roti, and serving it with kimchi.” The result is delicious (and I am not a sausage person at the best of times). “I’ve steered clear of the word ‘tapas’,” explains Nic, “because it refers to Spanish small plates; at Salt we offer a bit of everything.”
Health food made tasty
Nic has nailed the “health food made tasty” concept – all his ingredients are fresh, seasonal, organic (wherever possible) and ethically sourced. “I was reared on that kind of diet,” he explains, “so it’s second nature for me to prepare food that way. I’d rather pay more for hormone- and antibiotic-free meat and poultry, than serve bad stuff. Also,” he laughs, “our fridge is so small, that we have to buy fresh produce every day.”
Salt’s concise winelist, compiled by Nic and his dad, includes some pearls. “Waterkloof’s Cape Coral Mourvèdre Circumstance, for example, is one of the best wines to come out of this country.” And, like the food menu, the drinks are very reasonably priced. “I don’t believe in adding a 300 percent markup,” declares Nic. You’ll also find on-tap and bottled craft beers, and Damn Fine coffee.
A mish-mash that works
Décor wise, there is no particular theme, but rather a mix of features that were either inherited from the previous tenants (funnily enough, Spanish tapas bar, La Parada), or added with the help of Nic’s art-therapist mom. It all hangs together rather nicely to create a cool, homey space. A row of Victorian-style street lamps dangles above five wooden counters, with bar stools providing seating for 50 diners.
Each is decked with a pewter beer mug of short-stemmed roses, cutlery and napkins, and cool salt and pepper canisters that Nic spotted in a restaurant many years ago, and made a note of. “I’ve been collecting ideas and jotting them down for as long as I can remember. I knew that one day I’d open my own restaurant.” Nic worked as a waiter at Harbour House down the drag, and in the kitchens of various restaurants in Switzerland and Germany, where he lived for seven years before returning to his native Kalk Bay to open Salt.
Salt seats 50 diners, and is perfect for a special-occasion birthday, spontaneous pop-ins – grab a seat at the street- and harbour-facing counter – as well as lazy lunches, and festive nights out. Be sure to try the Lindt chocolate fondant – definitely worth its salt – and then some!
Opened May 2017
Contact 021 788 3992
Opening times Monday – Sunday, 7am – 11pm
Where to find it 136 Main Road, Kalk Bay, Cape Town