At the frankly iridescent Saltie Girl, everything glistens gorgeously in varying shades of turquoise, cream and gold. Walls sparkle, tables glimmer and tiles twinkle. It’s like we’ve somehow found ourselves inside one of the elegant tins of high-end canned fish that this Bostonian transplant prides itself on offering up alongside its more traditional seafood menu.
Following the original New England location – and with a recent opening in Los Angeles, too – this Audley Street spot is swisher than swish. The menu talks of ‘pristine’ fish, which naturally means a high price tag (remember, we’re in Mayfair) but also equals some seriously top drawer fruits de la mer. Their staggeringly long ‘tin list’ might sound like a gimmick, but it’s done with such dedication it’s hard to not be impressed. They’re mostly from Spain and Portugal, and there are almost 100 different kinds available, from razor clams in brine to spiced squid in ragout.
We plumped for a £20 offering of octopus, which came served in the opened tin – so we could eat it much like feral cats might – but also arrived with a sizable array of accoutrements. It was a picnic fit for Poseidon, with three types of salt, a ball of perfectly spreadable crunchy butter, pickled piparra peppers, rich and sweet piquillo pepper jam, and squidgy wedges of french bread.
As concepts go, serving expensive tinned fish is enough to hang an entire restaurant chain on, but Saltie Girl delivers much more. Oysters were exquisite, and the raw bar’s sea bass – thin slivers which come laced with arbequina olive oil and a mysterious ‘green water’ – was some serious statement fish. Torched mackerel with garlic and parsley was sublime too, but served peculiarly on one tiny edge of a massive plate.
A £20 offering of octopus was served in an opened tin so we could eat it like feral cats
The Boston branch of Saltie Girl is known for that New English speciality the lobster roll, so we decided to see what all the fuss is about. We were offered it cold or warm. Cold is how it should be done, and warm is how most people apparently prefer it, said our smiling server. A stickler for tradition, I decided to go cold. What arrived was a perfectly toasted and healthily buttered brioche under a fat layer of cool, calm, collected and extremely large lobster chunks. Spicy and creamy lobster pasta alla vodka offered similarly sized hunks of the beast. If you’re ordering lobster at Saltie Girl, they’ll damn well make sure you – and everybody else in the restaurant – knows you’re eating lobster.
Sure, some things about Saltie Girl are more cheesy than fishy – namely the neon sign by the women’s loo which asks, brazenly, ‘Are you a Saltie Girl?’, and comes complete with a mirror for the all-important Instagram selfie. But if it’s fancy fish you’re after – and endless tins – then a meal here is most certainly in order.
The vibe High-end seafood spot in the middle of Mayfair. A place to see and be seen (eating lobster).
The food Fish for days. There are almost 100 tins of classy canned fish on the menu, as well as excellent New England-style lobster rolls, and a raw bar.
The drinks Potent, deceptively simple cocktails, and biodynamic wines.
Time Out tip Go for the impressive tinned fish with all the trimmings if you want to keep things on the cheaper side.