As we counted days to our trip to Spain, the opportunity to visit Sagardi seemed a good way to sweeten the wait.
Sagardi is the first London restaurant of Grupo Sagardi, who specialise in Basque country cuisine. After running successfully in Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, Seville, Porto, Buenos Aires and Mexico City, they have burst into London’s exciting food scene. Their menu feature meat and fish dishes extensively and is a celebration of Basque regional cuisine and rustic produce.
The interiors are dark but moodily lit with pendant lights. The exposed ceilings, oak tables and blonde wood furniture create a rustic and industrial look.
As you enter, your eyes immediately get drawn to the jaw dropping, life-size yellow boat suspended from the ceiling with the words ‘Orio’ engraved on it – a nod to Spain’s famous fishing town and from where some of the ingredients of the restaurant are sourced.
The restaurant itself is a massive space, split into two main sections.
In the front section, you have the Pintxos bar and a street facing butcher’s shop.
The Pintxo’s bar is an excellent option to drink and savour some tapas. They have a good selection of small plates and the informality of it really reminded me of the pintxo bars in Barcelona!
The Butcher’ shop showcases the impressive cuts of aged meat sourced from the basque country farms.
As you go further along inside, you can see the impressive charcoal grill where the chefs are busy grilling large cuts of meats behind the glass façade.
Downstairs are some more private dining areas and some of the more beautifully designed toilets I have seen in recent times!
Sagardi have an extensive selection of wines, each listed according to region on their menu. They are clearly proud of their collection, judging by the spectacular display of the wines on the floor-to-ceiling glass cabinets.
For the evening, we chose a Rioja – one of our favourite red wines.
We kicked off with a tapa of complimentary traditional pan fried ‘Txistorra’- or Chistorra – which is a type of fast cure sausage. These were spicy, smoky (from the paprika) and meaty. They were very moreish and wolfed down in seconds.
Next up was a lovely assortment of beef cold cuts (£15) . Both the quality and flavours were a cut above the rest! We felt we should have ordered some fine Spanish cheese to go with it!
We also ordered some grilled morcilla – Spanish blood sausage (£12). It came with a side of slow roasted red ‘piquillo’ peppers drizzled in olive oil. The sweet and spicy flavours of the peppers went well with deep, dark, rich black pudding.
For our mains, Husband ordered the tenderloin of specially cured beef served with green Ibarra chilli pepper (£28). The beef was of the finest quality and very tender. The Ibarra chilli peppers were mild, grassy and fresh flavoured.
I decided to go for the farmhouse pork ribs (£19). The ribs were charred on the outside with smoky flavours coming from the coal, but inside was soft and juicy.
It also came with a side of mash potato which was a creamy and delicious and complimented the pork very well.
Feeling that our choices that night were quite meat heavy, we ordered a side of the lettuce with spring onions to make us feel less guilty! Although a simple dish compared to the rest, the fresh combination of the leaves with the scallions and the olive oil helped cleanse the palate between each mouthful.
A point about the service. On the day of our visit, they were still on soft launch, so the service was a bit hit and miss.
An interesting thing here is that only the managers are knowledgable about the food and drinks. The other members of staff help with everything else – from bringing the food to clearing the dishes. On a busy evening, with only one manager around, that meant we had to wait some time before our orders could be taken. But after the initial hiccup, the rest of the evening went smoothly. The staff are very warm and friendly, and seemed proud of being part of the Sagardi establishment.
All the food in Sagardi (we were told) comes freshly sourced each day from San Sebastian which is quite impressive. We only tried the meat dishes for our visit, and based on that we think this will definitely be a meat lover’s paradise. The focus is on quality ingredients and creative cooking.
The prices are on the slightly higher side. A meal for two with drinks and service will set you back £150. However, I have no doubt that this restaurant will be hugely popular with the City crowd given its handy location in the heart of Shoreditch.