There’ll be a gap in Birmingham’s culinary scene when Salt & Earth’s residency at 1000 Trades ends and its chef Niki Astley leaves Birmingham.
He has a style of is own, producing dishes that are easy on the eye, have finesse but, above all, are great to eat.
Niki, who ran the critically-acclaimed Two Cats Kitchen in the Jewellery Quarter before deciding to concentrate on Salt & Earth, is keeping tight-lipped about where he’s heading after Birmingham.
Wherever it is, the inhabitants are set for a treat.
A lazy afternoon sampling some of the dishes off his menu at 1000 Trades was time well spent.
The influences are eclectic – drawing on Latin America and Japan cuisine, but also styles nearer home.
Celeriac, for instance, came in pasta-like ribbons with a carbonara-style sauce balancing pungent pecorino with soothing eggs and lots and lots of punchy back pepper.
Yucca fries were beautifully textured and came with a tangy ponzu mayo.
Sweet potatoes came with salty feta, snappy little pellets of olives and agave.
A gorgeously spongey bao bun was topped with crisp soft shell crab, bacon, tomato and lettuce and was a BLT-inspired burger that was stunning.
Beef rump cap was perfectly cooked so that it blushed pink on the plate alongside a mole sauce given extra notes by hibiscus.
Tilapia ceviche was a colourful plate, zingy with palate-cleaning fresh flavours.
A white chocolate cheesecake with blood oranges, honeycomb and an almost herbaceous shisho oil was a real crowd-pleaser.
This was food that I would happily eat every day – though, sadly, time is running out to do so because Salt & Earth’s residency at 1000 Trades ends on March 3.
Meantime, from next week, Niki will be serving fresh, hand-pressed tacos for lunch with yucca fries for £7.
This follows the success of the taco pop up on the 10th with Lap Fai Lee.
Fifty per cent of the seats at Salt & Earth’s residency at 1000 Trades will be available for booking, with the rest open for walk-ins.
Places can be booked by visiting the 1000 Trades’ website at http://1000trades.org.uk/food/
Niki and his team will be serving food between 12-4pm and 5pm until close each day.
This is casual dining in a space known for its organic wines, craft beer, innovative pop-ups and other events.
The sort of dishes Niki is cooking….
Yucca fries & ponzu mayonnaise – £4 (v)
Sweet potato, feta, black olive & agave – £5 (v)
Celeriac, Pecorino cheese, black pepper, egg – £6 (v)
Sous vide pork belly, tamarind BBQ – £9
Japanese style fried chicken, dirty 1000 island – £7
Beef rump cap & mole poblano sauce – £12
Soft shell crab BLT – £9
Tilapia ceviche, chia seed, seaweed – £8
Popcorn ice cream, smoked fudge, waffles – £5
Cheesecake, white chocolate, blood orange, honeycomb, shisho – £6
16 Frederick St, Birmingham B1 3HE. 0121 233 2693.