Pastel-coloured reclaimed subway tiles adorn the walls, teeny tiny booths with terrazzo topped tables beckon us to sit down and gold fixtures twinkle on the central bar.
We fall in love with Sapling pretty much as soon as we enter. The small restaurant is located towards the Haggerston end of Dalston, and is small enough to feel warm and intimate even though it was blowing a gale outside.
The restaurant has a wine-led focus, although that’s not to say the food is overlooked. It’s an absolute joy to read, with really helpful descriptions, giving you a bit of background on some of the more unusual grape varieties. We couldn’t resist working our way through a few. Most notably a fresh yet oak-aged chardonnay from Puligny-Montrachet and a crisp, zesty Muscadet from the Loire – both organic and biodynamic.
Dishes are best shared but there is also a whole section dedicated to cheese and charcuterie, should you wish to just graze on that. We did both, starting with smoked garlic gougères – a bit sweet, a bit savoury, they were like sexy choux pastry sandwiches, covered in a fine layer of parmesan, oozing with a light cream centre.
The kitchen made a plate of salmon in error so they kindly offered it to us which we gladly hoovered up for them.
If we had any criticism we think the dishes could have come out in a slightly better order. No-one really wants to start with a plate of runner beans, even if they are served on a roast onion sauce so good that they kindly bought over some complimentary dusty knuckle sourdough bread so we could scoop up every last drop of sauce.
More substantial larger dishes included the onglet steak, served bright pink, sliced and doused in salsa verde and coco beans (like a white haricot bean). As well as a gorgeous piece of cod with the crispiest skin, served in a green, creamy sorrel sauce (que: more bread for scooping).
We swerved the sweet desserts and went for a lovely large serving of the gouda and a plate of wafer thin Cornish coppa with cornichons, along with a dessert wine. (When the wine is this good, it would really be rude not too).
Sapling is a dreamy spot, from a gorgeous young couple. A real shining star in what can be a rather drab bit of Dalston, we absolutely cannot wait to return.