Sagardi Shoreditch: Gastronomic heights of Basque tapas

Sagardi in Shoreditch

Sagardi in Shoreditch - Credit: Archant

EMMA BARTHOLOMEW dines at Sagardi, the first branch of the Basque chain to open in the UK after Spain and Latin America

Sagardi in Shoreditch

Sagardi in Shoreditch - Credit: Archant

Despite its promise to bring the kind of hearty home cooking Basque grandmas would dish up to the table, Sagardi is a sleek affair.

I’ll take their word for it that the dishes are authentic and take their inspiration from those served up to families all over the region.

But the restaurant in Curtain Road takes the cuisine to another gastronomic level.

Sagardi in Shoreditch

Sagardi in Shoreditch - Credit: Archant

The pan-fried Orio txistorra, or chorizo sausages, are wonderful, as are the ham croquettes we feast on for starters, along with “piquillo” peppers - so sweet they bring to mind treacle. The Iberian cured ham is exquisite and you can even taste the acorns the little black pigs feast on in the forests.

The Tolosa black bean is another dish not to be missed. Pork belly, chilli pepper and some delicately chopped lettuce come as accompaniments as well as “morcilla” black pudding – something I’ve never had the courage to try before – but Sagardi’s version is delectable.

Apparently the beans are brought to the boil and then left to simmer for seven hours to make them silky soft. They do, however, like many other things on the menu, come at a price.

The Tolosa black beans at Sagardi in Shoreditch

The Tolosa black beans at Sagardi in Shoreditch - Credit: Archant

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A bowl is £24. The Iberian ham is £20, while the lettuce and onion dish costs £8. The manager is keen to explain to us that all the products are supplied by artisans – like the lettuce which comes from the vegetable gardens of Hernani and the beans which are grown along the Rioja river – and it’s flown in daily from San Sebastián’s farm and coastal suppliers.

The same is true of the fine cuts of beef known as “Txuletón”. The dairy cow and ox are at least six years old when they are slaughtered, and the beef is matured for up to 10 weeks to develop texture and flavour before being slated and flame grilled.

The result is meat that’s so tender and flavoursome with a crispy, salty edge, that to add any sauce as accompaniment would be sacrilege.

The “Txuletón” beef at Sagardi in Shoreditch

The Txuletón beef at Sagardi in Shoreditch - Credit: Archant

Sagardi feels like the equivalent to Basque cuisine as Gaucho is to Argentina.

Food is utterly heavenly and if you’re still dreaming of the flavours and textures days later as I still am, then I’d say it’s worth splashing out.

Sagardi, 95 Curtain Road, Shoreditch, 0203 802 0478.