Already well loved throughout Spain and Latin America, the traditional Basque Country restaurant, Sagardi, is now open on Curtain Road, Shoreditch.
First impressions count for a lot and we fell in love with Sagardi at first sight. It might have been the ‘butcher’s shop’, proudly displaying huge cuts of meat which get the taste buds salivating. Or perhaps it was the Pintxos bar where you’re encouraged to start your evening. And if that doesn’t do it for you, the entire back wall covered in bottles of wine probably will. A huge industrial, modern space – we loved the contrast between traditional Basque cooking and contemporary slick design.
Traditional pan-fried ‘txistorra’ are the perfect dish to start the evening. They reminded us of the sweetest, most delicate, melt-in-the-mouth morsels of chorizo you can imagine. Rich, decadent, and ideally savoured, you’d be forgiven for eating them all immediately.
Continuing the meat-heavy theme, the grilled black pudding was the best we’ve ever tried. Yep, ever. Stepping up the robust flavours, the addition of pickled red onion really helped balance the dish.
Tomato bread is a favourite of ours, three pieces are presented here, drizzled with olive oil and represent good value at £3.50. Pan-fried fish is served with sweet green chillies and caramelised garlic. Sagardi is all about showcasing the best in season so the fish might change but the quality will always be top notch.
But really, you don’t come to Sagardi without ordering the steak. The menu is a little confusing, offering three different cows by weight, so let the friendly staff guide you.
We opted for the cheapest cut, “txuleton vaca – ciderhouse” which comes pre-sliced for sharing. The beef had a lip-smackingly salty rich seasoning, complete with a buttery rind of fat. The result – a completely empty plate. Totally delicious, it offers something different to London’s other steak houses and we reckon it’s up there with the best.
The quality of ingredients is such that you really don’t need to get too clever. Simple cooking, simple recipes, but oh so tasty plates of food. The lettuce salad is a prime example. For what is essentially an iceberg lettuce, drizzled with salt & olive oil, it shouldn’t be so good, but we devoured it and happily handed over £8 for the privilege.
Sagardi clearly never got the memo on carbon footprint. The quality of ingredients is so important to them that they fly their specially selected tomatoes over from Spain to create this pretty little dish. To be fair, I’ve never had such a juicy tomato so I’ll turn a blind eye to the melting ice caps.
If, like us, you need a little help choosing just one (ahem) bottle from the impressive list (250 and counting we’re told) then look no further than a bottle of the very reasonably price Uco Acero Malbec 2011 – it’s PERFECT with the steak.
Being quite partial to popping over to Spain at every available long weekend, we are thrilled to see Sagardi arrive in London. While not cheap, we’ll save the steak for business expensed lunches and prop up the Pintxos bar with a glass of that Malbec in hand. See you at the bar!