This cute Aussie café – little sister to Lantana in Fitzrovia – now offers a colourful dinner menu and some creative cocktails. In addition to their delectable brunches, lunches and cakes, of course.
Behind the glossy floor-to-ceiling windows onto City Road, the interior is quite industrial. A minimal mix of concrete floors, white walls (one adorned with a floral black mural) and the obligatory exposed pipes make the small space feel airy, if a little cold. You walk into the takeaway section first, which is dominated by a trendy wood-topped bar. The main seating area, filled with wooden tables and spindle-backed chairs, is tucked in the back behind a low bookcase.
An upbeat electro-indie soundtrack sets the mood: easygoing, cool and friendly. Salvation Jane is out of Shoreditch proper, and as such it’s a little more mature and laidback. They haven’t completely cracked the day-to-night transition yet though. A bit less lighting and maybe a candle or two would make it cosier come dusk, encouraging people to linger.
Their mainstays so far have been coffee, cakes (favourites from down under like ‘cherry ripe’ slice and friands) and their much-lauded brunches, but there’s now an affordable dinner menu of simple, original dishes, too. It’s split into small and large plates, perfect for sharing, swapping, fighting over or just hogging all to yourself. Many people forget the Asian influences in Australian cuisine, but there are plenty here in their use of fragrant herbs and sweet spices.
Pretty small plates range from sticky pork ribs (£7) to haloumi with salsa verde (£5.50). The haloumi is grilled very briefly, leaving it soft and moist, a nice contrast to the bed of peppery rocket. Lemon pepper squid (£6) is also excellent, the long, crisp curls enlivened by a lime aioli, coriander and bright shavings chili and red onion. The larger plates sound much heavier than they are, especially a bold cherry tomato and basil risotto, topped with crumbled baked ricotta (£9). For once, this dish is neither an obligatory veggie option nor too rich to finish; it’s fresh and light without any of the common stodginess. Decidedly Asian rather than Aussie, the Thai fishcakes with a lime chili dipping sauce (£9.50) are very decent, though they could be a little crisper. The accompanying salad of glass noodles, peanuts, carrots and spring onion is better.
Whether or not you shared the large plates, you’ll want to split the toasted banana bread (£6) for pud. It’s very heavy, topped with nutmeg- and cinnamon-spiced mascarpone and passion fruit. Other crowd-pleasers include chocolate brownies and lemon cheesecake.
Salvation Jane might have forged their reputation for brews, but slightly tweaked classic cocktails are the current focus. You can have an Aperol negroni, mango mimosa or elderflower daiquiri shaken-up for a very reasonable £6.50. For wine, there’s just one white, one red and a prosecco on the menu, plus regularly changing choices chalked-up on a blackboard. They’re by no means all antipodean, but the Sotherton Shiraz-Viognier (a regional wine from South-Eastern Australia, available by the glass, carafe or bottle for £5, £13 or £20 respectively) is worth a try. It’s in the style of a northern Rhone Côte-Rôtie, where a small quantity of Viogner (a white grape) is blended with the red Syrah. This particular experiment is rich and peppery with an unexpected aromatic element that really lifts the wine. If you’d rather hops to grapes, there’s Camden Brewery Hells Lager, Brooklyn Lager and Little Creatures Pale Ale.
The Last Word
Salvation Jane is the kind of place where you could meet for lunch and find yourself still sipping cocktails at six. Sure, the evening atmosphere might benefit from a few tweaks, but it’s early days and the food is pretty much spot on.