SABOR: SALSA DOWN THE ESSEX ROAD
If, ten years ago, anyone had told you that The Essex Rd would be home to a Japanese canteen, a hookah bar, a tapas bar, a branch of Giraffe and a Pan Latin American restaurant, you would have had them carted off while whistling that song by Napoleon XIV.
It is a sign of the increasing gentrification of London that it now boasts all of these alongside the much blessed Steve Hatt and James Elliot, Master Butcher.
A supper tonight with two colleagues saw us pottering the short hop from our office up to Sabor. It has been open a little over two years, I think. But, because it stopped opening at lunchtimes, I have barely given it a glance since my one visit shortly after it opened its doors.
Tonight however, it made a decent non destinational venue for some serious publishing matters to be discussed.
At 7pm, as we arrived , we were the only people in the place and we took a table near the front of what is a very attractive room indeed. Minimalist but littered with fun Cuban “tat”.
The menu takes in a good deal of Latin America in its scope with dishes from Cuba, Colombia, Ecuador and Chile being in evidence. The wine list, too is predominatly from Chile.
To begin, a Colombian Sopa de Calabaza ( roasted pumpkin with spices ) was smokey and dense with a touch of fire. A Ceviche Mixto ( which I did not try ) contained prawns, haddock and octopus which had been par cooked and then dressed in a ginger and citrus marinade to finish the “cooking”.
I decided to up the carbs with some Chilean empanada which were plumped out with minced beef and olives and served with a moreish chilli and coriander relish. The pasties were a little on the lumpen side but the relish was worth the price on its own and I could have just eaten a big bowl of that along with some of their excellent homemade breads.
For main courses, one of my colleagues chose Tuna with a salsa verde which came with a dusting of ground cumin and pumpkin seeds which was more interesting than successful. Much more successful was a huge mound of crisp sweet potato chips which we helped her demolish.
Least attractive was a Pato con Maracuya which was a duck breast ( again I did not try ) with a passion fruit sauce and a mash of walnuts and plantains. My colleague polished it off though so it must have been fine.
More than fine was my Ropa Vieja ( literally, Old clothes ) which is a classic Cuban dish of shredded braised brisket which came with rice & beans and maduros. A hefty plateful and I had to leave much of the rice. But, damn tasty.
We began with a glass each of a typically cats pissy Chilean Sauvignon and two of us had a glass of anonymous Merlot. The wine list though is interesting and not overpriced.
I did not pick up the tab so can’t tell you the total, but dishes are well priced with starters between £4-5 and main courses between £13 and £15. Wines by the glass are around the £4 mark which is about fair. I would imagine that two courses with wine and service would come to about £60.
If anyone had told you ten years ago that you could spend £60 on The Essex Rd without it involving at least a blowjob and a week’s supply of Amyl you would have had them carted away while you whistled……………………. Ah, I’ve already done that one.
Still, by the time we left it was almost full, so The Essex Rd is obviously the place to be. Who knew?