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22 August 2014
(menu)

John Salt

131 Upper Street, London N1 1QP

£43.00 Fusion Islington, Barnsbury

Overall Diner Rating

 

Based on 8 ratings. Rate it!

  • Wine: £19.00
  • Champagne: £50.00
  • Dinner: ££28/£56/£85 (4/8/12 courses)
  • Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 12N-12M (Fri -1am) Sat 11am-1am Sun 11am-11pm

Square Meal Review of John Salt ?

Following the departure of hot-shot BBQ chef Neil Rankin, who is now firing up the stoves at Smokehouse on nearby Canonbury Road, this noisy, but ‘immensely cool’ foodie boozer is in a state of flux. The current chef is working out his notice and there are plans to revamp the venue in November, creating what the owners call a ‘bar-based offering’. The upstairs dining room will be turned into a more casual lounge, but for now there are still DJs at the weekends and a drinks offer running from London-brewed ales to zesty cocktails – try the ‘beer glass’ Mary or spiced steelbottom (Flor De Cana rum, ginger, lemon, London Fields Hopster and bitters). More details to follow.

Click here to read our diners’ reviews, or write your own
 
  1. John Salt

    131 Upper Street, London N1 1QP
    Overall rating:
     
    Rikesh P.

    Nice

        (1)

     
    • Food & Drink: 7
    • Service: 7
    • Atmosphere: 7
    • Value: 7

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  2. John Salt

    131 Upper Street, London N1 1QP
    Overall rating:
     
    Lifeofshayan

    A date night at John Salt

        (2)
    Editor's pick

     
    • Food & Drink: 8
    • Service: 7
    • Atmosphere: 7
    • Value: 8

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  3. John Salt

    131 Upper Street, London N1 1QP
    Overall rating:
     
    Jonathan T.

    So near, but yet so far

        (4)

     
    • Food & Drink: 8
    • Service: 4
    • Atmosphere: 5
    • Value: 6

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  4. John Salt

    131 Upper Street, London N1 1QP
    Overall rating:
     
    Grumbling Gourmet

    Come and join the food spotters…

      Gold Reviewer  (86)
    Editor's pick

     
    • Food & Drink: 9
    • Service: 6
    • Atmosphere: 6
    • Value: 8

    Was this review helpful to you?

  5. John Salt

    131 Upper Street, London N1 1QP
    Overall rating:
     
    Matt P.
        (32)
    1 of 2 people found this review helpful.
    Editor's pick

     
    • Food & Drink: 8
    • Service: 9
    • Atmosphere: 7
    • Value: 8

    Was this review helpful to you?

  6. John Salt

    131 Upper Street, London N1 1QP
    Overall rating:
     
    Elle E.
        (20)
    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

     
    • Food & Drink: 7
    • Service: 7
    • Atmosphere: 8
    • Value: 7

    Was this review helpful to you?

  7. John Salt

    131 Upper Street, London N1 1QP
    Overall rating:
     
    Frank H.
        (1)
    0 of 1 people found this review helpful.

     
    • Food & Drink: 3
    • Service: 8
    • Atmosphere: 8
    • Value: 2

    Was this review helpful to you?

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  1. Published : Thursday, 10th October 2013

    sexdrugsandbaconrolls :: John Salt

    We had high hopes for John Salt, a trendy café/restaurant/bar in Islington as the food menu and website was simple yet well nice little details. The restaurant is based at the end of Long Street nearer Kentish town/Hampstead and so is off the main tourist route. There are two floors to the restaurant, the downstairs which has a vast bar and leather sofas as well as benches for diners near the window. Upstairs there is a balcony floor a quarter of the size of downstairs and this is dedicated to food. The restaurant/bar is extremely simple in style. Plain cement floors with brick bare walls in an almost warehouse type feel...
    More from sexdrugsandbaconrolls »

  2. Published : Friday, 20th September 2013

    The Celeriac :: John Salt, Islington

    Islington restaurant John Salt caused quite a stir when it opened under the tenure of Chef Ben Spalding – who made people lick actual bricks for some reason. He then left in a hurry, and was replaced by Pitt Cue’s Neil Rankin, who, it is claimed, was somewhat of a charcoal grill/big pieces of piggy meat hot shot. He’s since upped sticks, and been replaced by this gravy loving chef-man...
    More from The Celeriac »

  3. Published : Saturday, 20th July 2013

    Brunch etc. :: John Salt

    I've been hearing a lot about John Salt in recent months, and living close by in Angel, I was keen to check it out. Unfortunately, by the time I got round to eating there, Ben Spalding - the chef who made John Salt famous with his innovative12-course tasting menus - had already moved on, and while the a la carte menu still looked very appetising, I was concerned as to whether the food would be as good as originally reported. I needn't have worried: our meal there - a casual date night, after a few sunny post-work drinks - was excellent. The food was delicious, the decor was cool, and the prices were pretty reasonable too...
    More from Brunch etc. »

  4. Published : Wednesday, 19th June 2013

    Mrs Petticoat :: John Salt, London

    John Salt started off its life as the Eastenders of the London dining scene; drama, drama, drama. Head chef Ben Spalding sensationally parted company with the establishment before the end of his residency despite being booked solid for months. What possibly could have caused this? Was it the pressure? Did he not like the area? Had the owners made one too many ‘Yo mama’ jokes? It has since transpired that Ben refused to have his food diluted to the stage where he was cooking burgers and chips. With his fine dining tasting menus receiving such acclaim, this is hardly surprising. I like a man who stands by his principles, they’re the best type. Along with hunky ones. George Clooney has principles and is hunky. I wonder if he has a restaurant?...
    More from Mrs Petticoat »

  5. Published : Sunday, 16th June 2013

    SamTheFoodFan :: John Salt

    There was a big hoo-ha in the restaurant world towards the end of last year when hot young chef of the moment, Ben Spalding, left before his 6 month residency at John Salt in Islington was up. He was quickly replaced by Neil Rankin, formerly of Pitt Cue Co....and that is what made me schlep all the way to North London to try the food at John Salt. I absolutely loved Pitt Cue Co when we went earlier this year (read about it here) and knowing that Neil Rankin was an absolute master with the BBQ and slow cooked meats, I just had to give his Sunday Roast a try...
    More from SamTheFoodFan »

  6. John Salt was way bigger than we expected, it was a relief not to be crammed in as seems to be the norm these days. We sat upstairs in the more formal restaurant area, which also has its own bar with warm and friendly staff on hand at all times. We always give a big tick to anywhere that offers us tap water straight away, the John Salt kind was delivered in a white fish-shaped jug that made a mildly amusing glugging sound when pouring...
    More from We Love Food, It »

  7. Published : Saturday, 1st June 2013

    edge and spoon :: John Salt

    When the star chef (Ben Spalding) leaves just a few months into the opening of your new restaurant (booked-up weeks in advance, I might add) you’d be forgiven if things went down the pan. But, magically, things haven’t gone that way at John Salt. Whilst it might not be possible to have Spalding’s ‘Chicken on a Brick‘ any longer, you can, however, sample a range of delights from new head chef, Neil Rankin. There’s no pomp and chefery here. What you get is a new take on unfussy, home-style cooking – but it’s not the place to take your grandmother…
    More from edge and spoon »

  8. John Salt along Islington Upper Street is noticeably more crowded these days. I hesitate to say that it's like that only after Spalding's sudden departure at the end of December as I've read raving reviews about his cooking while he was the head chef at John Salt. At the time of his departure, he had a full booking for Christmas and New Year...
    More from London Chow | Where to eat in London »

  9. Published : Friday, 22nd March 2013

    bloke does blog :: John Salt, Islington, London

    When I was asked where I’d like to go for my birthday, it was clear the long awaited time had come. “John Salt!” I shouted with excitement. I’ve been wanting, and needing, to go to John Salt ever since former Pitt Cue Co head chef Neil Rankin took up residence...
    More from bloke does blog »

  10. Published : Monday, 18th February 2013

    Fd Over LDN :: John Salt Part II - All Smoke, No Mirrors

    John Salt opened in November with Ben Spalding at the helm, with his much revered taster menus & bar menu. Much praise was lavished, including from us, but it was all cut short rather abruptly, with Ben replaced with Neil Rankin, former head chef of Pitt Cue Co. Neil was already in talks to go into another one of the 580 ltd group's pubs at the Owl & Pussycat in Shoreditch. Looks like John Salt have pulled another Ace out of their sleeve with this new signing, with food cooked on another spectrum (or a big green egg). With Rankin's renowned expertise with all things meat and barbeque and some rather exquisite Asian influenced dishes, the place is a haze again with recent glowing reviews in Timeout and the Metro, as well as from the smoke in the kitchen...
    More from Fd Over LDN »

  11. We originally booked John Salt when it was still under the direction of Ben Spalding. Sadly he and the John Salt organisation parted ways, but the appointment of Neil Rankin (formerly head chef at Pitt Que & Co) blew new life into the project and the initial reviews were promising. So we decided to pay John Salt a visit during a rainy Sunday afternoon...
    More from FoodiesOnTheProwl FoodiesOnTheProwl »

  12. Published : Thursday, 31st January 2013

    The F World :: Neil Rankin at John Salt, Islington

    Chef Neil Rankin (former Pitt Cue Co.) has finally started his residence at John Salt in Islington, after a short stint in the kitchen by Ben Spalding. I came, I saw, I was conquered by the food – “like porn for carnivores- meat with everything” to quote a friend- I liked everything except an unfortunate plate of soggy fries and the clubby atmosphere. Here’s the laydown of a much-anticipated evening of (good) food and (bad) music...
    More from The F World »

  13. Published : Monday, 21st January 2013

    Samphire and Salsify :: John Salt with Neil Rankin

    Two months ago I had dinner at John Salt on Upper Street in Islington. It’s a neighbourhood bar and restaurant which was home to Ben Spalding for a 6 month residency and I thought it was rather bloomin’ lovely. After hearing the news that Ben and John Salt had sadly parted ways four months early (meaning I wouldn’t be able to return and try his 45 ingredient salad) I was curious as to who would replace him. That man is baseball cap wearing Neil Rankin, former head chef at Pitt Cue Co (the kings of pulled pork). I ate there when he was behind the grills and absolutely loved it but have never had the chance to eat his own food. I was super excited then when I was rather kindly invited to a menu tasting night at John Salt to sample nearly all of the dishes from his new menu. We started off with oysters and beef fat mayo (£5) which came deep fried and encased in a beautifully crisp batter. The oysters were soft and had a little hint of vinegar which was lovely...
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  14. Published : Wednesday, 19th December 2012

    Culinary Creep :: John Salt, Islington

    Home For so long, Islington has been something of a dining black hole. There are plenty of places to eat along Upper St yes, but so many of them are average – hardly destination restaurants. The fact that one of the more popular and anticipated restaurants has chosen to open in little ol’ Islington makes me feel excited for Islington – almost like we’re pulling our culinary weight in London. John Salt is helmed by Ben Spalding, a young chef who has worked in several notable kitchens (The Fat Duck, Per Se, Roganic), and now has the opportunity to cook his food and show his vision. Downstairs is a large bar with bar food and Sunday Roasts served on Sunday, unsurprisingly. Food at John Salt was a modern mix with noticeable touches of Asian cuisine thrown in, while the interior had Scandinavian minimalist touches...
    More from Culinary Creep »

  15. Published : Tuesday, 11th December 2012

    LONDONcalling :: John Salt

    I'm fairly sure most of you reading this will have heard a little about this place and the head chef Ben Spalding, ex of Simon Rogan's Roganic. Having worked in a multitude of Michelin starred kitchens finally he gets the chance to show off his extensive skills in this six month joint pop up venture. Prior to this he did a short stint called Stripped Back in a schoolyard serving food to up to eight guests in an open air environment. Now he is in charge of an extremely busy thirty cover mezzanine restaurant and an equally busy bar menu too, which includes a popular non bookable chefs table.Now then. I have patiently tried with the booking staff since November to get a seat upstairs in the main restaurant, all to no avail. Truth be told they were inundated with booking requests and I had other commitments on the days that they could fit me in. Ah well, hey ho, no problem. Keeping up with events on twitter I find out that they have a chefs table downstairs where you can sit and eat the bar menu and interact with the chefs. So that's what we did.  The long bar dominates the room and at the other end of the picture close to the window is the chefs table. Rough hewn planks of wood form the table. Simple stools are there to rest your butt on, and more simplicity from the kitchen aspect reigns as it is standing room only for the chefs. Two or three single induction hobs provide the cooking heat plus a blow torch for a bit of scorching. A vast array of plastic tubs of all shapes and sizes contain the mise en place . Small blackboards on the wall highlight information to the customer.As the chefs table is non bookable we were hopeful that a couple of empty spaces were still available. It looked full, but with a bit of rearrangement two spaces were created right next to the wall directly in front of the two chefs. For us this was the perfect spot. Seeing the dishes being cooked and plated before our eyes and to be able to interact with the chefs added another dimension to the meal. Our young lady server went out of her way to accommodate us and the chefs were more than happy to add us to the merry throng at the table.There were ten items on the menu and we were determined to try as many as we could. Prices seemed very reasonable, ranging from £6 to the most expensive £9. An excellent value six course tasting menu of the dishes was available for £34.As this was the bar we skipped the value wine option and went for beer, as there were some appealing options on tap.So you probably have already heard of Ben Spalding's famous chicken on a brick, but this was not on today's menu, but Greasy Chicken Skin Sandwich (£6) certainly was. This was served on a porcelain plate, not on a house brick.In fairness it was not that greasy, most of the fat had been rendered out during the cooking process leaving a crisp delicious vehicle to carry the other ingredients which were...... A slick of paprika mayonnaise, red onion jam, compressed cucumber and baby gem lettuce. Our chef today was Ben Spalding's sous chef Nathan Holmes who suggested, as its a sandwich we should eat it with our hands. So that's what we did. Yum, yum.Second course was Fried Maccaivelli Egg (£8)This was a pan fried egg cooked right in front of us on one of the induction hobs. Underneath the egg is a pomme puree, smoked watermelon cubes and in front of the egg is a wall of panko bread crumbs. Thinking back I should have questioned the "Maccaivelli " element. Does it just mean "cunning" ?  Or is it the name of the egg. Not too sure.The bread (a  marmalade ciabatta) and butter was for me amazing. The loaf itself is quite flat but careful cutting on the angle reveals far more of its inner beauty. Spongy soft and salty crunchy crust. What's not to like?Buffalo Mozzarella (£7)  with a drizzle of warm maple dressing was next. Some persimmon and crunchy brazil nut crumbs were evident. A bit of colour from the bitter turnip tops added to the picture.Interacting with the chefs really made this a fairly unique meal, and Nathan and Toby were a delight and great fun to be around. Nathan especially took the time to explain the dishes which helped me to get a better idea of some of the elements in them, elements that I would normally have missed.For a simple sounding dish, the Pink Fir Potatoes (£6) was a far more complex offering than we first imagined. So, sauteed potatoes, lemongrass creme fraiche, sea purslane,  bacon lardons, crispy onions and last but not least a dusting of shaved Original Chocolate. Mmmm.I had read somewhere that Ben Spalding makes a red wine bread and asked Nathan about it. It is a secret recipe but he had a couple of buns for us to try and he treated us to more marvellous butter by "The Butter Viking"Patrick Johansson. who also supplies Noma.  Of course this epitomises Spalding's desire to offer the very best that he can. Sourcing is paramount and only the best of the best is good enough, nothing less will do.The bread, is actually made with red wine flour imported from Canada. Its very expensive at £20 for 400 grams. So if you do get to try it, savour every last crumb.Scallop Broth (£9) is an amazing affair. Big, big flavour. No faffing about with delicate teasing here. Its actually a bye product of the hand dived scallops from the Isle of Skye. Its thickened out with cream and butter and is totally delicious. The addition of kaffir lime adds a scented note and there was some textural addition with toasted almonds.On the face of it another alarmingly simple dish, but the Spiced Venison Wraps (£9) were a big whack of flavour. They were blow torched to finish them off, but the real thrill lay within because there was a marvellous mix of ingredients that made up the intense ragu. So think minced Venison with juniper, fenugreek, cinnamon, orange zest, fish sauce, ketchup's, etc etc. There was also some blow torched lettuce and minted sour cream. Nathan was slightly concerned that he did not look too enthusiastic in this unposed, off the cuff shot, but believe me nothing could be further from the truth. Throughout the meal him and Toby were the perfect hosts and their infectious love of working in the industry really shone through. In fact they stated that it was so rewarding being able to communicate directly with their customers, as they rarely receive feedback in the kitchen proper.Desserts next and  the first one of two was Chanteclere Apple and Lemongrass Crumble (£8)On top of the pudding was poured some ice cold basil milk.Last but not least was Warm Original Bean Chocolate, served with a Jersey milk sorbet.Buried within was some cubes of salt baked pineapple and the dish was finished off with a sprinkling of chopped hazelnuts. A really luxurious mousse that again, in a way, was simple but very satisfying.I say last but not least, but we were presented with and asked for our opinion on a little treat of Kaffir Lime Macaroons with rotten Mango.No. Don't ask, because I did not. (rotten mango?)Needless to say that they were all that they should be. Crunchy outer, chewy inner. Tart from the lime but richly sugared too.Well that's it really, and considering that this is the bar side of the operation it was very good indeed. Overall the food was of a very high standard . Service was spot on, accommodating and friendly and the two chefs were great company throughout, which added an extra zing to the meal. Of course those of a nervous disposition have other seating arrangements available to them but for us this was the ideal spot to while away two or three (it may even have been four, I lost track of time) hoursSo there you have it. Its a big recommend from us. Go seek it out before it gets too busy.Yes and as a footnote. Just to prove what a great pair of guys they were, Nathan and Toby did a Usain Bolt pose, which summed up just the level of fun that it is to work,and eat here.
    More from LONDONcalling »

  16. Published : Wednesday, 14th November 2012

    samphire and salsify :: John Salt

    John Salt is a “neighbourhood bar with good beer” and resides on Upper Street in Islington. It’s more than just a bar however, it’s the first restaurant from Ben Spalding since he left the kitchen of Roganic. He has taken up a 6 month residency to run the kitchen at this newly renovated bar/restaurant and my gentleman companion and I were lucky enough to have a table during the first official dinner service...
    More from samphire and salsify »

Essential Details for John Salt

  • Address: 131 Upper Street, London N1 1QP
  • Telephone: 020 7359 7501
  • Website:
  • Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 12N-12M (Fri -1am) Sat 11am-1am Sun 11am-11pm
  • Cuisine: Fusion
  • Area: Islington, Barnsbury
  • Price: £43.00
  • Wine: £19.00
  • Champagne: £50.00
  • Dinner: ££28/£56/£85 (4/8/12 courses)

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