Tapas time at Sabor in buzzy Heddon Street

Today it’s time for a taste of Spain in lovely Heddon Street. Sabor is the brainchild of Nieves Barragan Mohacho  and Jose Etura who hail from Bilbao, and Valladolid in Castile in central Spain. And it means flavour in Spanish – what a great name for a restaurant.

There are three areas at Sabor, the Counter and Bar on the ground floor and El Asador on the first floor.  The website describes the restaurant as “Taking a journey from the tapas bars of Andalusia through to the asadors of Castile and the seafood restaurants of Galicia”. Now that sounds like the sort of journey I want to embark on.

Made even better by the fact that it’s on one of my favourite London streets, just off Regent Street, a little restaurantland haven steps away from the hustle and bustle of London Town.

What’s on the menu

There really is a fabulous choice of Spanish-ness at Sabor. One of the day’s specials were these amazing, soft and creamy goat’s cheese croquettas. They really should come with a warning, they’re so good, I think I could eat a hundred of them!

Sabor: croquetas

The creamiest and crispiest of croquettas

The tasty stuffed baby squid was crisp and served with a beautiful garlic mayo.

Sabor: baby squid

Stuffed baby squid with silky garlic mayo

I do like a bit of quail but they can be rather an effort to eat for relatively little reward. Not today! These babies were beautifully crisp and flavoursome with a surprising amount of succulent flesh. And just perfect served with one of my favorite of Spanish sauces – Romesco and a head of crisp, refreshing chicory.

Sabor: quail

Crispy, succulent quail with delicious romesco sauce

They do love their pork in Spain which also means they really know how to cook it. Today’s Presa Iberia 5 Jotas with mojo verde was beautifully tender, again backed with those namesake flavours and served with a wonderfully rich gravy and herby accompaniment. Mojo verde is this wonderful green sauce (obviously!) made from fresh coriander, garlic, olive oil and cumin – so yummy with this pork dish – though I could actually imagine it going with plenty more dishes. A good thing to keep handy in your fridge to boost any meal, I’m thinking.

Sabor: Pork

Iberian pork in a league of its own

This is the beautifully illustrated menu at The Counter. Upstairs in El Asador they seem to specialise in suckling pig – one of my Spanish favourites.

Sabor: menu

The menu of deliciousness at The Counter

And here’s the beautiful counter. A place where I want to spend more time enjoying some more deliciously authentic Spanish dishes. Vuelvo enseguida.

Sabor: The Counter

The beautiful Spanish counter

Sabor is at 35-37 Heddon Street, just off Regent Street.

Heddon Street Kitchen: the new baby in Gordon Ramsay’s family

I’m a big fan of Gordon Ramsay’s Union Street Cafe in Southwark, so when I heard of another new opening, I had to get in quick. Okay, so Gordon doesn’t actually work at these places (not that he’s pretending he is), but I have no issue with this as he does seem to have the knack of nurturing really good head chefs.

At Heddon Street Kitchen it’s Maria Tampakis at the helm. She hails from Brooklyn in New York, is part of a large Greek family (so has spent a lot of time in Greece, lucky her) and she describes the offering as “seasonal modern European food spiked with Asian influences”. So far so good.

To make matters even better, the restaurant is on one of my very favourite streets in London. Heddon Street is a minute off Regent Street but tucked away enough that you’d have to know it’s there to find it. This little oasis (aka Regent Street’s Food Quarter) has several bars and restaurants all with decent alfresco areas.

Heddon Street Kitchen is open all day, ideal to pop into at any time to get away from the hustle and bustle of Regent and Oxford Streets, especially at this time of year. I headed in for lunch, only three days after it had opened.

It’s a modern, glitzy sort of space with booths along the large windows and a welcoming feel. And the menu offers a comprehensive selection of starters (hot and cold), salads, mains and grills which are one of its specialities.

This starter could well be the best one I’ve eaten all year. It’s like a sophisticated veal tonnato, one of those dishes that sounds really strange but actually the combination of flavours is something spectacular. Roasted veal carpaccio, dill pickles and quails eggs with a tuna dressing.

veal

Beautifully tender veal with a delicate dressing and soft quails eggs…sublime

The stone bass fillet carpaccio was topped with perfect avocado puree, horseradish and ginger. The avo puree and fish simply melted in the mouth.

fish

Tenderly tasty fish carpaccio

I love a good pork belly dish but have pretty much given up ordering it in recent times after too many disappointments…soggy crackling, dry overcooked meat, too many clashing flavours in the sauce. Today I spotted the best-looking pork belly on the table next to me. Such a perfect dish when it’s done well like this one was. The slow-roasted Saddleback belly was served simply with gravy and apple sauce and cooked to the ultimate tenderness with the most flavoursome of crunchy crackling. It was so good I’m thinking my  new ordering strategy should be to check out the surrounding tables and pick whatever looks the best. Worked like a charm this time.

pork belly

Pork belly to dream of…

With such a meaty dish there was a need for some veg…these spiced honey carrots were beautifully sweet and spicy with a bit of crunch.

carrots

Carrots with honey and spice

The Caesar salad came with pancetta, anchoves, soft boiled egg and aged Parmesan. A classic to tuck into.

caesar salad

Caesar salad

When I was in Italy recently I discovered the existence of macchiato – an espresso served with a little bit of milk. Okay, I’ve realised I’ve been rather slow in this discovery…but I’ve got there. A great finish to what turned out to be a rather large meal. Portions are extremely generous here, I reckon the pork could have satisfied two people and my starter was almost large enough to be a main. So make sure you go there hungry!

coffee

Time for macchiato – love the switched cups

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The stylish interior of Heddon Street Kitchen

Heddon Street Kitchen is at 3-9 Heddon Street, London W1.

Square Meal