REVIEWED: Salt Yard W12, Westfield London

As I sat at my desk working on a media plan, a Teams message popped up and confirmed any “foodies” worst fear; our lunch the next day had been canceled. We go into the office twice a week, and honestly, where is the motivation if I am not going to get taken out for lunch? Luckily one of our other lovely media partners stepped in and booked us a last-minute table at Salt Yard in Westfield, Shepherd’s Bush. As a Crohn’s sufferer, I always check out the menu before I go to places. Tapas isn’t something I would go out of my way to book under my own steam, which is a bit weird because I do love it. Smaller plates are appealing to me because you get to try more of a variety of different foods, without getting yourself into that state where you are so full, going back to the office and working for the afternoon seems as insurmountable as trekking up Everest. Sanja Moll and Simon Mullin’s vision for Salt Yard came from their own experiences travelling and eating around Spain and Italy, and there are already a couple of restaurants dotted around London, so by the time they had opened this one it seemed they had perfected the formula by the time W12 opened it’s doors.

Despite being a tapas restaurant, there isn’t a lot of Spanish feeling in the decor, rather, they have gone for a modern feel with highlights like exposed brickwork and low-hanging light bulbs, with an overall colour scheme of green and blue, which gives the impression of a clean-cut and sophisticated venue. We were at a table next to the bar, and the table was nestled into a corner which felt very private, which is usually a good thing for me as some of my stories are a bit colorful and I tend not to have much of an “indoor voice”.

Salt Yard has a varied drinks menu, and although I didn’t partake in cocktails myself, my colleague had one and very kindly let me take a picture of it, because it was beautiful. As is standard with smaller plates, we all mutually decided which dishes to go for. The only bar snack we ordered was the crispy pork belly, which was the only bar snack we needed alongside everything else that was coming. The pork belly was so melt in your mouth, I swear you could have spread it on a bruschetta. The crackling that came with it was light as well, which is no mean feat because anywhere else I’ve had crackling recently it’s been heavy and chewy and hasn’t left a positive, lasting impression.

Croquetas are a tapas staple, and conjure up memories of sitting at a beachside bar while the sun goes down in Alicante, picking at tapas, red wine in hand, deciding whether to have a chilled night and hang dinner out or find a good bar to settle into. The Jamon and manchengo croquetas were creamy inside and the ingredients were top quality, but my only slight grumble would be that they could have been more crispy on the outside. The chargrilled ribeye with salsa verde and red wine jus appeared next, which for ribeye was surprisingly tender and I found personally I didn’t need to add any of the salsa verde for flavour as it was cooked so well. 

Salmon is high up on my list of enjoyable protein so I was keen to try the salmon fishcakes. Fishcakes seem like a simple dish but there is a lot that could go wrong. Mashed fish doesn’t have the biggest appeal when you get down to the nitty-gritty of how fishcakes are made, but the filling was smooth and the fishy flavour wasn’t overwhelming, neither was anything used to enhance the flavour, so a perfect balance really, and add on to that the outside was delightfully crispy, and I think I’d say these were my dish of the day.

Coming in at a very close second though, was the meatball and spiced tomato ragu. Because have you even had tapas if you haven’t had a meatball-y dish with tomato sauce? I stayed away from the cannellini beans because, IDB, but the meatballs were spectacular. I’ve had many a meatball in places that claim they only use quality ingredients that have been too fatty or have had some gristle in them, but these meatballs packed a punch flavour-wise and they were tender. 

The choice of dishes here is quite varied, and they also offer a set menu. I’d go back to try some of the other dishes.

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