For the past few summers, Selfridges has created a pop-up restaurant on their 5th floor rooftop in Oxford Street. This year, Vintage Salt has taken over. Intended to mimic a Cornish fishing village, with maritime design and a seafood and grill-based menu, I went for weekend lunch with a friend, and I was happy to have been able to book a table online just the day before. You start appreciating the little things like this after living in London for a while. As I got into the restaurant's own lift accessed from the fragrance department, the seaside theme was already evident. The friendly waitress, dressed as a sailor, directed me to a table in the narrow outdoor space. From initial impressions, I got the sense that everyone one was there for a special occasion to try it out, and maybe it's not the kind of place that you'd return to, however it's possible that the atmosphere is a bit cooler around dinner time. I started with ancient loaf with hand churned butter. This was listed as one of the starters on the menu, and not as a side. The crispy crust and soft bread was among the best I've ever tried, I could almost have had it as a main as well. As an aperitif, I ordered the Dirty Sea Martini; a vodka martini with some pieces of seaweed at the bottom of the glass. It was refreshing and interesting, but it smelled a bit too much of the sea, almost fishy. The cocktail menu generally looked interesting, and I'd like to go back one evening and try more of their drinks and one of their Champagne Popsicles.
For mains, my friend ordered the Beef Burger with truffled fries on the side, and I went for the Camden Hells Fried Fish & Chips. When the food arrived I got a slight pang of food envy, as the burger looked amazing with a thick slice of cheese and an avocado topping. However, she said the meat was quite dry, and not as good as it looked. The fish and chips were pretty much what you would expect, the fish seemed fresh and the sides were tasty, but it didn't stand out as very different from what you would get served at a pub. Being a popular spot, the reservation email made it clear that you can only keep the table for 90 minutes. At the end of our slot, a crowd waiting at the bar had built up, but fortunately the waiters didn't put any pressure on us to leave. The staff seemed to have been instructed to not let a single drop of rain fall on the guests, as every time there was a cloud, they would close and reopen the roof. Luckily the weather stayed sunny and we took a quick peek at the London view before heading back down to Selfridges for some shopping.