Categories Food&DrinkPosted on

Sagardi: Pleasures of the Flesh

SEEN was reminded of what a privilege it is to meet chefs and butchers who are truly passionate and single-minded about the food they prepare and cook. Thus it was at Sagardi in Shoreditch, where the ravenous foodie press was assembled earlier this week, to witness the butchery of, and subsequent cooking over a splendid barbecue grill, of a side of ox.

Resident butcher Imanol spoke of his personal involvement, knowing how the animals live and are fed before selecting those who eventually make their way to table after a natural death. Imanol rubbed his hands possessively over the carcass, melting the fat slightly and inviting us to do the same. This meat is as far away from the plastic wrapping of supermarkets as it’s possible to be. As Imanol himself said, meat is a whole culture on its own to the Basque people, and it is this very sensibility that he and the team at Sagardi are gradually spreading globally.

The branch in Curtain Road, Shoreditch has been open for ten months and has been wowing diners with its no-nonsense hearty recipes. So what did it taste like? It was grilled for four minutes (the meat is cut very precisely) the turned and the topside spread generously with sea salt and cooked for another four minutes. The sea salt is discarded after enough of it has been absorbed into the meat to heighten the flavour and it was served with salad, grilled peppers, lovely dark bread and a red wine. Simple and hearty. Much is made of the marbled fat and there is no doubt that it is greatly flavour-enhancing. We also sampled some delicious pinxtos and Basque cider, which extended Sagardi’s theme of simple yet bold flavours. Nothing adulterated here, SEEN is glad to say.

It’s a funny thing, no matter how advanced we are in terms of tech we are at our best and most connected when watching meat being cooked over fire and eaten. It could have been a scene from the Stone Age had it not been for us all taking pictures. There was something deeply primal and sensuous about the whole experience. It clearly appeals to our atavistic natures and it’s rather cheering to think that we are all cave people at heart. It seems that sophisticated London diners are re-learning what the Basque people have understood for centuries; well-reared meat simply cooked equals an excellent meal.

www.sagardi.co.uk

Sagardi
95 Curtain Road
London
EC2A 3BS

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