The very best seafood restaurant in the UK is in Sussex, according to an industry competition.
The Salt Room in Brighton has been revealed as the UK winner in the 2017 Seafood Restaurant of the Year award.
The award, presented by Seafish and The Caterer, is designed to find the best restaurants cooking and serving delicious seafood dishes, and highlights creative use of seafood and businesses’ knowledge of often under-used species in all types of restaurants.
Recognised for its consistently high customer service, its 'excellent menu' and good variety of locally sourced fish species, The Salt Room was praised by judges for its innovative range of dishes and for taking steps to educate more consumers on the vast range of fish and shellfish available to diners in the UK.
The Salt Room prides itself on only sourcing seafood from certified and responsible suppliers and serving these in innovative ways, such as whole market fish cooked over charcoal, or gurnard with Romesco sauce, octopus and green olives.
A mystery dining audit undertaken by Seafish as part of the judging process also scored The Salt Room highly with regards to staff’s familiarity and knowledge of species served, with the front of house team able to offer good advice and recommendations to diners regarding the fish and shellfish on offer.
Raz Helalat, owner of The Salt Room, said: “This result was completely unexpected and makes all the hard work from the team this year so worthwhile. It’s been a real group effort and an amazing 2017.”
Dave Mothersill, group head chef, said: “I didn’t think we would win – it’s an honour to simply be in the top five. But now we have I’m super happy. It’s perfect timing to receive this award, as alongside our new restaurant opening in London, the team have been working very hard and I’m really pleased for everyone involved.”
Lisa Jenkins, products and suppliers’ editor of The Caterer, and co-chair of the judging panel, said: “Part of The Salt Room’s success is its simplicity. From the outside you would assume you were walking into a simple brasserie, but the dishes will blow you away. These can range from a lunch menu item such as cured mackerel, fennel and kimchi mayo to octopus, cocoa beans, pancetta, seaweed and spiced gilthead bream, cucumber chutney and yoghurt, for dinner.
The 2017 judging panel included Derek Marshall, chef-owner of Gamba, Glasgow, winner of the 2015 Seafood Restaurant of the Year; Alex Aitken, chef-patron of The Jetty, Christchurch, Dorset, winner of the 2016 Seafood Restaurant of the Year; Calum Richardson, owner of The Bay Fish and Chips in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire; Giovanna Grossi, AA group area manager; José Souto, chef-lecturer at Westminster College, London; and Paul Hurren, managing director of Lusso Catering, London.
As part of winning the award, three members of The Salt Room team will receive an all-expenses paid trip to the fishing port of Brixham, Devon where they will have the opportunity to further extend their knowledge of the catching, processing and supply of fish and shellfish.