You may remember, I wrote about Salt & Earth in residence at 1000 Trades a few months back. Back then, Salt & Earth chef Niki Astley was about to set off to pastures new, and it wasn’t clear if he’d be returning to Birmingham, or even the country! Lucky for us, he’s back, and is back in residence at 1000 Trades, serving a new menu inspired by his travels.
Once again, the menu is divided into Earth, Land and Sea, with a Heaven section for dessert. They advise you order two to three dishes a person. This time round, the menu is lighter, so I’d suggest three each and share like tapas, partly so you can maximise the amount you can try, and partly as we found this was the right amount to feel full but not stuffed.
The Earth section is entirely vegan, which is great news for vegan foodies who are often over looked in these kind of pop-up menus.
Roast Cassava (£5.25) is served with whipped tofu and red chillies. Cassava isn’t something I’ve eaten a lot of, and I was curious what this would be like. The cassava is slightly sweet, counter balanced with gentle heat from the chillies, and creaminess from the tofu. The outside is crisp, holding a fluffy interior, like the best roast potatoes.
Bread Salad (£6) comes with hazelnut oil, basil, cucumber, tomato and pickled chilli and packed a surprisingly spicy hit. The colourful salad has some real zing, and is a fresh, flavourful plate.
Asparagus, Miso, Nori & Potato (£7) is spring in a bowl, with fresh asparagus with plenty of bite and a light, frothy dressing that has a taste of the seaside thanks to the salt of the miso. This was one of my favourites, thanks to the bright, springy flavours.
The Land section is for the carnivores, with some meaty options, with some more unusual accompaniments.
The Beef Brisket (£11) is served with bitter radish, perilla and fermented red bean. The brisket falls apart at the touch of a fork, and is unbelievably tender, and juicy. The red bean brings rich flavour to the meat, with the radish bringing a sharpness to cut through.
The Pork Belly (£9) with garlic is one of the prettiest dishes, with some serious bright colour on the plate. The pork is soft and moist, with perfect bands of flavoursome fat running through it. The garlic brings deep sweetness, a perfect pairing for the tender meat.
There is only one dish in Sea this time around, but it ended up being my absolute favourite of the night.
The Salmon Thai Laab Style (£12) with green beans and spring cabbage is labelled as a very spicy, but even my spice-dodging dining partner is able to enjoy it with no bother. The chillies in it are very hot, but if you avoid eating one of those whole, you’ll be alright. Instead, the flavour is classic Thai, flavoursome heat rather than ‘melt-your-face’, with delicious sourness undercutting it. The beans and cabbage are crisp, bringing great contrasting texture to the melt in the mouth fish. The salmon is soft, and full of flavour, thanks to the obvious light hand in it’s preparation. Perfection on a plate.
Despite being full, I found a corner for one of the desserts.
Strawberry, Burnt White Chocolate and Almond (£6.50) is a great, light end to the meal. The icecream is full of fruity flavour, and pairs beautifully with the fresh fruit and the bitterness of the burnt chocolate. Summery, pretty and a delicious. What more could you ask for?
You can find Salt & Earth in residence at 1000 Trades, serving all day Monday to Saturday. You can book a table here, and tell Niki I sent you.
We paid in full for everything we ate and drank. Thanks to Twitter, I know Niki a little, so he was aware I’m a blogger. All opinions, words and images are my own. All prices and menu options correct at the time of writing.