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Salmontini

1 Pont Street, London, SW1X 9EJ, United Kingdom

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This site on Pont Street in Belgravia was formerly home to the American steak chain Palms, and before that was Drones. Its new incarnation looks to the sea rather than the land, being the first venture outside the Middle East of family-run Salmontini, who have restaurants in Lebanon, Dubai and Jeddah, and a salmon smokehouse in Dubai. Their first restaurant and shop opened in 2001 in Beirut. The smartly decorated dining room seats 75 or so diners, with additional seating at a bar and private dining room.  The head chef is Esteve Prats Grau, who previously worked at Tom’s Kitchen, and trained at two Michelin star Lasarte in Barcelona.

The wine list had some good producers, with around 130 labels ranging in price from £25 to £870, with a median price of £59. 49% of the bottles were from France, but there were some wines from areas as far flung as Georgia and Lebanon too. Mark-ups averaged a hefty 3.3 times the retail price, which is quite high even given the Belgravia location. Example labels were Fairview Darling Chenin Blanc at £28 for something that you can find in the high street for £10, the lovely J.J. Prum Kabinett 2011 at £51 for a bottle that retails at £17, and Domaine Bernard Moreau et Fils Morgeot Chassagne Montrachet 2009 at £106 for a wine that will set you back £48 in a shop.

Crispy salmon salad (£14) had pieces of smoked salmon topped with what appeared to be rice crispies served in a lettuce leaf; this had a subtle hint of spice and was quite enjoyable with its textural contrast (13/20).  Sashimi of sea bass, Spanish tuna and prawn was decent enough, though the flavour of the tuna was nothing special, and the wasabi used was powdered rather than the real thing (12/20). Lamb cutlet (£24) with rosemary sauce had meat cooked correctly, the sauce on the subtle side to my taste, though the croquette of lamb had plenty of flavour (12/20). Salmon with herb sauce was accurately cooked, though the salmon did not have a great deal of flavour, as sadly is the norm these days unless you can find wild salmon in season (12/20). For dessert, apple tart needed a sharper apple and more fruit (11/20) but chocolate fondant was properly made with a liquid centre (13/20), and tiramisu was quite good, having a good punch of coffee taste (13/20). The coffee brand was Illy.

At a second meal tempura prawn rolls had reasonable rice that was the correct temperature, though the tempura batter would not pass muster in Japan (12/20). California rolls lacked much flavour, and oddly these had fridge-cold rice (11/20). Tarragon chicken was cooked correctly, with properly cooked green beans and broccoli, though the tarragon flavour was quite subdued (12/20). Tiramisu was again clearly better (13/20) than the rather dry apple tart, which was consistent with the previous version I had tried (11/20). The coffee supplier had switched to Lavazza, which was not an improvement.

Service was friendly and generally competent, though topping up of drinks was a little erratic. The bill came to £46 a head. If you shared a modest bottle of wine then a realistic bill per person would be about £60 or so. This is not excessive given the Belgravia address. Overall, Salmontini delivers a pleasant if hardly thrilling overall experience. 

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