Thursday, January 28, 2010

At last, Salta! (not a particularly relevant title, but palindromes never are)

Salta in Three Lamps is the best cafe in Ponsonby. Well, certainly Ponsonby North, being the general area we're willing to walk to from work at number 239. If the name Salta doesn't ring a bell, maybe Atlas will – that was what it used to be called until, from what I can work out, there was some unpleasantness with the Atlas coffee people and the cafe was forced to anagrammatise.

At any cafe, no matter how many dishes are on a menu, many of them disappear quickly as possibilities. This was very true when I was a semi-vegetarian, but even true now that I'm avoiding the worst culprits of animal cruelty – battery chickens and caged pigs. If the menu doesn't say 'free range', then it isn't, and you quickly become aware how many dishes use chicken and bacon as a crutch. This is only a small problem at Salta, but particularly bad up the road from me at [something something] Loaves and Fish in Jervois Road. Sheez, if 95% of my counter food had chicken in it I'd at least try to take some pride in finding good birds. But what do you expect from a place that charges $4 for a long black?

The point I'm getting to is that even though I love Salta, there are only really three or four dishes that I rotate when I'm there: the mince on toast (organic, so why no free range chicken?), the goody-good salad (feels better than it looks better than it tastes) and these noodles picture above on my fancy new iPhone application my friend Jaquie recommended.

The dish tastes very good and is called, I think, Spicy Noodles with Mushroom, Spinach and Bok Choy. Given that noodles are pretty much blank carbohydrates you appreciate the addition of nutritional extras. The mushrooms taste good, the spinach slips by unnoticed and I'm sorry but I've given Bok Choy a number of chances and it tastes like water and has a horrible consistency. So it better be good for me.

The real joy at Salta is the staff, who will probably end up reading this because they're actually interested in food. So let's just say they know who they are and what they do.

You can sit outside at Salta, probably next to some old rocker guy in denim cut offs and Rod Stewart hair circa 1975. When he pops inside to pay you can feed your bok choy to his poodle.