Salt’s Diner, Saltaire
The food at Salts Diner on the second floor of Sir Titus Salt’s magnificent Italianate mill is not quite as spectacular as it should be given the setting, but it’s cheerful and reasonably cheap and it’s a treat to eat among the great stone and iron skeleton of the mill.
It helps to like David Hockney, his vibrant blow-up Yorkshire snaps on the walls, his dog depicted on the napkins and the main 1853 gallery on the ground floor which celebrates his ever changing work from early pencil sketches through California, photo collages and back to East Yorkshire. The menu is bistro basic: pizzas, Cumberland sausage, salads, sandwiches and ice cream and sticky toffee you-know-what for afters.
The diner is licensed these days, something the teetotal Sir Titus would not have approved of. A Victorian philanthropic Bradford mill owner, he built Salts Mill in 1853 to weave alpaca and went on to create a whole model village of houses, church, school and park. In 1987 Jonathan Silver, a young Bradford businessman who had made his fortune in menswear bought the mill for under £lm and restored it with something of Salt’s vision.
As well as the world class collection of Hockneys there are bookshops, bike shops, jewelers and an enticing home shop. The Opera Café on an upper floor serves seafood Wednesday to Sunday. It’s a wonderful space with acres of York stone, rustic brick and industrial ironmongery matched with tubs of lilies and opera full-blast on the sound system. It’s open every day and entry is free. The tragedy that underpins all this is that Jonathan Silver died of cancer in 1997 aged 47. Happily his wife, brother and daughter continue to keep the whole ship afloat. A great day out.