One of my food based regrets in life is that I never got to try Two Cats Kitchen before they closed. When Niki Astley went solo with Salt & Earth, it went straight onto my must try list. Sadly, Birmingham is going to lose Astley soon, as he’s leaving not only Brum, but the country, for new and exciting projects. Before he goes, you must go along to his residence at 1000 Trades.
The menu is divided into sections, with a suggested two to three dishes a person. Dave and I opted to try and order as much as we could between us, so we could sample most of the dishes.
From Earth, we chose Yucca Fries (£4.50) and Celeriac (£6). The Yucca fries were perfect; crispy coating and fluffy middle. The Celeriac was our absolute favourite dish, which neither of us expected. Served in pasta style ribbons, this had a real black pepper kick, balanced by the creamy sauce. Delicious and super moreish.
From Land, we went for Sous Vide Pork Belly (£9) and Japanese Style Fried Chicken (£7). The pork belly was butter soft, and almost sweet with Tamarind BBQ sauce. The chicken was juicy, with a pleasingly crunchy coating, and a dirty thousand island dressing that packed some unexpected, but welcome, heat. I was expecting wings, for some reason, which I’m not that big of a fan of, so the boneless fried chicken style was a good surprise.
Lastly, from Sea, we ordered both options; Soft Shell Crab BLT Bao (£12) and Tilapia Ceviche (£8). The bao looked amazing, and the crab was cooked perfectly, with no toughness. My only issue was the bao itself, which was a bit huge compared to the amount of filling. While tasty, we find the bao stodgy. Utter perfection though, was the Ceviche. I’ve eaten this before, at Sear and Smoke, and it was as good as I remembered. Colourful in the bowl, sharp flavours and very fresh fish. Bliss.
I remain heartbroken that I had no room for the Heaven section (or dessert, to you and me) and that we’re losing Niki Astley from the city. His food is beautiful and delicious, and if you ask me, his departure is a real loss to Birmingham.
Salt & Earth are in residence until Saturday 3 March, so hurry! Find full details here.