Sardine | 15 Micawber Street, London N1
Once you enter Sardine, you’ll get a feel of what the place’s vibe is like from its décor – simple, homey, friendly yet contemporary – with warm pastel tiles, warm wood tables on the side and a large steel commune table in the middle. There was also a huge open-kitchen, where you’ll see the chefs working behind the wood and charcoal-burning grill.
Quite distinct from some exquisite French cuisine restaurants, there are no glamorous plating, extravagant ingredients, nor fancy cooking technique (which sometimes, I think, has the sole aim of making food not look like what it really is – it makes a kind of impression, but most of the time, I can’t really see the point). Sardine uses fresh ingredients and concentrates on how to do simple dishes properly and how to do it best. The dishes are simple but to-the-point most of the time.
Out of the short and punchy menu, we picked the following two dishes:
Breakfast Cassoulet | £12
Adding a clever English twist to the Southern France stew dish, by using baked beans in place of haricots blanc and including a black pudding. The braised pork belly is the best part of the cassoulet. Imagine the caramelised and tender pork and the juicy later of fat all melting together in your mouth – devilicious! I’ll admit I cannot see the beauty in black puddings in English breakfasts with its oaty and dry palate and strong irony flavour, but cassoulets always make a hearty exception.
I just found out I write about pork belly twice already in the four posts I made, but I don’t quite care about pork belly being fatty and all. IT IS DEVILICIOUS 99% OF THE TIME.
Chef’s special – Grilled Jowl (for two) | A reasonable price
An experience at a wood fire cooking establishment would never be complete without a huge piece of grilled meat. There is another element of pride for Sardines – they home-make everything. An excellent example would be the homemade garlic sauce with goes with the grilled jowl T-bone. I would not say the grilled jowl is the best in town, but it would do the job to lighten up a Sunday morning.
Chocolate, brandy prune, hazelnuts & cream | £7.5
When the jolly waitress asks if we are happy with everything, we were happy, but not quite there at the point when we are gratifyingly satisfied. This dessert completes the picture. In my thoughts, chocolate icecream, hazelnut and most forms of alcohol (brandy, whisky, baileys (of course)) make heavenly matches.
End note – Their soft-tails (home-made, again!) works perfectly as a refreshing start for the Sunday morning – I had a softtail with pineapple and tea (forget the exact content). I left Sardine with a jolly good mood, and of course, their unfussy and flavour-rammed dishes have a large part to play in that.