Restaurant Review: Salt's, Swinegate, Leeds

LITTLE Oliver actually finds it hard not to gush about this place. We really must rein ourselves in in the name of objectivity but, even being impartial, we struggle not to go on about Salt's.

Because this deli should be held up as the perfect example of something we should be very proud of.

It's an independent business which set out to achieve a clear vision and has done so wonderfully.

The venture began down on Swinegate, and has now spread to a second unit up in The Light on The Headrow – and the city is all the better for it.

Owner Bruce Salt established the business almost six years ago with the aim of creating a little piece of Spain in the heart of Leeds.

Fridges packed with olives, sundried tomatoes, cheese and cured hams. Dried bunches of chillies hang above a thick wood counter festooned with sweet things, steaming pots of pasta and little bags of savoury delights.

It's a look which many have tried, and failed, to emulate, but Bruce and his wife Caroline have kept it real by following a few simple principles about packing their food with flavour and not cutting corners.

Salt's has never been cheap. There are plenty of places that do cheap in Leeds but they don't deliver this high standard.

They provide the most high class of fast food – hot dishes, upmarket salads, delectable pastries and a sandwich bar to die for.

We dropped in for lunch and were struck by the forcefield of knee-trembling smells which hit us as we walked through the door.

I went for the sandwich and soup deal, which means if you buy a sandwich you get a pot of soup for just 1.50 extra. In total this came to 5.35.

The sandwich was a perfect ciabatta containing chorizo Iberico, brie de Meaux, spiced pear chutney and watercress while the soup was a fantastic pea, mint, potato and courgette number.

My dining partner, meanwhile, had the Harissa and citrus chicken with spicy prawn rice at a not unreasonable 3.85. It wasn't the biggest portions but the chicken was very tender, not too greasy and the rice had a real kick.

So we were in and out in five minutes with lunch for two and change from a tenner, which is a fair price for what we received.

We noticed the salad offering had been reduced. There was once a time when two or three would adorn the counter top but now it's down to just one. Is this due the change in seasons or the need to streamline the business? It's uncertain, but certainly a pity.

You do need to watch yourself in Salt's as well. If you do you can get yourself a not too expensive meal, but go mad and throw in a cake here and there, perhaps one of their drinks and you could easily double your bill and end up paying something close to 20 for a take-away.

Quality comes at a price, but at Salt's it's not one you have to pay if you're careful – something punters have clearly realised since they were queueing out the door on the day we visited.

Star rating: 4/5