On a super simple Haloumi Burger ($10) there is no place for floury tomatoes to hide. It’s an inauspicious introduction to the new kid on the decimated remains of Devonshire Street; though after removing the offending slices, I am able to improve my burger using the generous serving of well-drained, skinny fries.
Despite the plethora of plated food photos gracing Instagram, get it into your head that Saltie is predominantly a takeaway food and coffee counter. The handful of bar stools sit right in the service area, and are generally used by people surfing the internet on their iPhones while they wait for their coffee orders.
Saltie uses clean lines and sparse decoration to good effect in the tiny space. The menu is equally bare bones – bowls, burgers and all-day breakfast items – supplemented by a counter full of salads, and some specials written up on the chalkboard.
After four or five visits to give the menu a good going-over, my go-to lunch-to-go is their Poke ($12) bowl. Purported to contain ahi tuna, it is sometimes substituted to salmon without warning, but it’s always a satisfying (if somewhat salty) bowl of raw fish, sesame oil, shallots, shoyu, sea salt and brown rice.
If ordering a Matcha Mint Pistachio Frappe ($6) causes the counter hand consternation like it did on one day I dined, poke goes down okay with the bottles of Jiva Ginger Kombucha ($5.50) too.
Quality Australian garlic would improve their Felafel Wrap ($10) by ensuring the garlic sauce isn't so raw and aggressive, though I am a big fan of the super soft spinach wraps. The Lamb Bowl ($12) – another daily special – is also a brown rice affair, topped with a diced tomato and cucumber salad and lashings of yoghurt and garlic sauce. It’s tarted up by throwing the lamb shoulder onto the grill – despite it smoking out the small shopfront – but let down by them leaving too much chewy gristle in the mix.
I consume my lamb bowl with a Caramel Milkshake ($6) that tasted too much like caramel-flavoured syrup to get me rushing back for another. However even with some less than perfect experiences, Saltie is a good - if somewhat laddish addition - to the area. Now if only we could make the NSW Government stop fencing it off and digging it to pieces...
80 Devonshire Street, Surry Hills
Ph: (02) 8056 9681