First impressions: Rock Salt

New restaurant leaves us between a rock and a hard decision

Opening in the space that was formerly Bellita, Rock Salt has launched with a colourful, vibrant new look – and a menu to match. 

Offering both Indian and Chinese cuisine may seem like a bold move, but co-owner Harry Massey was keen to bring something a little bit different to the foodie destination that is Cotham Hill. 

“Our unique selling point is that we serve proper Indian and Chinese food under the same roof. This, coupled with our cocktail menu curated by our manager Ed Sargent, and delicious Indian wines makes for a distinctive and memorable evening out,” he tells us. 

Visiting on a busy preview night we sampled from both sides of the menu, first tucking into some Indian lamb chops – which gave me tingly lips from the punchy tandoor spices – and then the Chinese crispy beef, which arrived as an inviting entanglement of deep-fried strands, glistening with tomato and chilli sauce and provided a satisfying crunch. 

By this time, the restaurant now full and the vibe cranked up a notch – the unmistakable clank of ice being poured into a cocktail shaker constantly audible. There’s an inventive list to choose from that includes a Rose Negroni, Cinnamon Bramble and Rock Salt Margarita, a signature drink and luminous blue creation.

As plates of from both sides of the menu whizzed to other tables around us, I spied the Mongolian chicken, Szechuan beans and dim sum and wondered what kind of military operation must be happening in the kitchen beneath us to keep up with such a varied menu. 

The house special, Khadai duck, arrived in slices atop a bed of peppers, onion and tomato. The accompanying sauce was flecked with fenugreek and enough green chilli to bring about some real brow sweat. The duck was cooked nicely, not fall-apart slow-cooked as maybe I’d hoped, but tender and flavoursome. 

A shoutout, too, goes to the peshwari and keema naans, which were beautifully fresh and indulgently buttery, the keema filled with a dry, spiced mince, rather than the tepid pink paste you sometimes see. 

To finish was a cooling rice pudding (shared, we overindulged on the naan) which, going by the rich creamy texture, I ascertained near doubled the amount of calories for the meal.

By offering two types of authentic cuisine, Rock Salt definitely has a unique offering, but will the restaurant become known for one half of the menu? We’ll just have to wait and see whether variety really is the spice of life.