The best meals are often those that don’t appear to try to hard. Sardine, a new Shoreditch restaurant backed by Stevie Parle with Alex Jackson, who worked with him at Dock Kitchen taking charge in the kitchen, just sings with joie de vivre, the staff are all smiley and know they are in a good place. The food is packed with appealingly simple, good tastes with no pretence or fussiness. The French influenced menu with splashes of Italian and Northern Spanish influences is absolutely joyful. Even though I’d just returned from SW France, it feels like a breath of fresh air.
I love the “snacks” of radishes, creme fraiche pimped with a little salty, fishy bottarga, an interesting, novel combination, and a sweet ultra flaky anchovy and caramelised onion tart that is utterly moreish. I could eat clams, fresh peas and saucisson sec in a buttery sauce everyday, so summery and conjures up the essence of summer and the sea. I’m going to be cooking fish en papillote a lot more after tasting this delicious, quintessentially Mediterranean combination of red mullet, brill,perfectly cooked with courgettes and tomatoes. Lamb ficelle, beautifully pink and rare with white beans would have benefited from a slightly more punchy salsa with some anchovies thrown in. A side order of chard au gratin goes down a treat, a vegetable too often overlooked.
A simple crepe dessert with plums and cherries and apricot kernel ice cream is divine too. Only apricot and brown sugar tart is rather dense and would benefit from more apricots to balance it.
I liked too the mini cocktails especially my negroni infused with peach and was tempted to work my way through the list. Having a combination of individual seating, a communal table and counter seats at the two bars, just adds further to the winning conviviality of Sardine. No wonder it is packed. I’d like one in my neighbourhood. www.sardinelondon.com