Salut! French Bistro, Canonbury

Written by: Sophie Taylor

We make our dishes extra hot to allow time for food selfies.

Martin Lange of modern European dining extravaganza, Salut! invited us for dinner. We said, yes please Marty! gathered up our tastebuds and ran all the way there. The independent Islington restaurant comes with exquisite recommendations.

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A quick scan of the menu alone will leave your stomach rumbling: all thanks to Martin’s brother Christoph who has worked with the Michelin starred likes of Maaemo and Noma.

You’d think this calibre of gastronomy would equal high prices and an aloof atmos. Far from it. Salut! is as convivial and outgoing as it’s exclamation point. I’ve never felt quite so welcome and at ease, especially at such fantastic value.

It’s a delight to be able to watch Christoph create culinary precision in the open kitchen, a sign of transparent confidence. Having both studied catering from the age of 16, the Lange brothers care and attention to detail is palpable. My friend joyously notes the low lighting and warm decor, perfect for drowning self consciousness in favour of food and conversation. It would be an excellent first date choice. Plus if it all went tits up, the dishes would erase any ill feeling while Martin would lift your spirits no end.

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After devouring the crispy soda bread and richer-than-Ivanka truffle butter, our starters arrive and knock our socks off on to the next table. Which would be embarrassing if it wasn’t for the fact theirs blew onto our table when their fillet of bass arrived earlier.

There’s a reason they make their dishes extra hot as our waiter explains, “to allow time for food selfies”. We cordially whip out our phones and snap away, if not just to share with ourselves at a later date to remind us why life is worth living when such culinary beauty exists. Here I was presented with three different preparations of beetroot: reduced, soused and salt baked. But the proof of the pudding (starter) my friends, isn’t simply in the eating. At Salut! it also lies in the viewing.

Who knew such a modestly described beetroot dish could produce such a landscape on a plate? With goats curd, hazelnuts and red sorrel, the flavours had a raucous wedding party in my mouth and cheered and danced as I sipped on more vin rouge.

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Our spirited waiter for the night is Raphael from Brazil who passionately recommends the pork for our main. So I plump for the reconstructed pork belly, which comes languishing on a beautifully homemade ceramic plate joined by nutty Romesco sauce, crushed cassava and braised hispi cabbage.

Peppering our animated debates and reminiscings is Martin, who flows in and out with a steady stream of wine and smiles. We are content and in good company, the time flitting by before dessert time is upon us. Luckily we are satisfied but not so full to bursting that we can’t satiate our second stomach, reserved solely for pudding.

I order the pumpkin pie, having salivated over Instagram snaps and cultivated quite the curious greed to try it. The pie arrives as pretty as the preceding courses, dressed with chestnut and tonka bean Mascarpone, drizzlings of Lime and a pumpkin sorbet that will make your eyes pop.

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My friend tries the chocolate spheres: shiny and primed with liqueur crème, brandy marinated sour cherries and crispy caramel nest. Again, the menu is misleadingly humble. By this point we have no words and can merely shake our heads with eyes wide at the evening of delectable treats. 

Will we be going back? Yes! In a big group for an upcoming 30th and a hot date with a foodie. Also probably with my Mum next time she’s down. Maybe take my brothers when they visit. I think my friend’s cat has a free evening next week for a lunch meeting. There’s just no beating that price vs quality and atmosphere fit for any occasion. Make sure you’ve got enough memory on your phone, room in your belly and have your socks knocked off by Salut!

Salut! is now open for dinner Mon-Weds, and for lunch and dinner Thurs-Sun. You can make a booking online or call 020 3441 8808.

Salut! 412, Essex Road, N1 3PJ

Photos c/o Martin Lange.

Read our review of Tapas restaurant, La Fabrica in Finsbury Park.

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