It would appear that summer is playing silly buggers. The amount of genuinely sunny days have been extremely limited, but when they do appear I’ve been sure to make the most of it by dining al fresco. Every season, the roof of Selfridges‘ flagship Oxford Street store changes its aesthetic and more importantly, its menu, for dinner and drinks looking over central London rooftops. This season it’s Vintage Salt, a nautical themed spot with a penchant for fish dishes.
It certainly looks the part: waiting staff in sailor stripes, fishing paraphernalia adorning the walls and seashells aplenty. The separate bar area is kitted out with deckchairs for taking in the sunshine and beach huts decorated with picture postcards of south England beaches. It’s a little slice of the coast, right in central London.
We couldn’t decide what to get, so, while drinking fun, fruity cocktails from mason jar, we did my favourite restaurant trick: order two things you both want and share it out. No risk of getting food envy! We went for the sea bass ‘a la plancha’ with surf clams and wilted beech greens, and sea reared trout with charred asparagus, lemon and herbs, with a side order of truffled chips (because who could resist that on a menu?!).
The sea bass was melt in your mouth soft, with a buttery sauce I could have quite happily drank, but instead mopped up with the veggies. The trout had a crispy, salty skin covering delicate flakes of fish – a real eye opener for this here food snob who rarely enjoys trout at all. The chips were something totally new – shavings of truffle sprinkled over the top and left to melt over them. It meant that sometimes, if you were lucky, you’d get a couple of fries stuck together, held there with sticky, sweet truffle. Also amazing for tidying up the rest of that leftover buttery sauce with the sea bass.
Feeling delightfully full and genuinely gushing about how good our mains had been, we decided to be sensible and choose the lighter dessert option: bellini popsicles. These are literally alcoholic Calippos – refreshing, tangy and very, very sweet. We sat in deckchairs in the setting sunshine, contemplating more cocktails but thinking better of it and enjoying the moderate serenity compared to the busy street below.