Sabor, the New London Restaurant from Nieves Barragán
Sabor, the restaurant, bar and asador from chef Nieves Barragan Mohacho and business partner José Etura on London’s Heddon Street is open for business. Sabor focus on capturing the flavours of the duo’s native Spain, taking diners on a journey from the tapas bars of Andalucía through to the asadors of Castile, and the seafood restaurants of Galicia.
Text: Rodrigo García Fernández / @ICEX.
Spanish gastronomy is firmly entrenched in the London culinary landscape. For more than a decade, Londoners have enjoyed excellent Spanish products transformed into traditional recipes, some more modern ones, and others that exquisitely capture the essence of Spanish haute-cuisine. Names like Brindisa, José Pizarro, Ibérica, Hispania, Cambio de Tercio, Ametsa by Arzak, StreetXo, Eneko at One Oldwych and many others, are the culinary architects of this equal-parts gastronomic and economic success.
Now, it is the turn of two Spanish professionals who have watched first-hand as British palates have been conquered, little by little, by Spanish cuisine. They are none other than chef Nieves Barragán and her business partner José Etura, both of whom worked for ten years at one of London’s temples of Spanish cuisine, Barrafina, taking it to the pinnacle of success in the media, as well as onto the list of London diners’ preferred restaurants.
Sabor restaurant, Nieves’ dreams
As of March 1, Nieves and José are at the helm of Sabor, a new restaurant located in one of the city’s most glamorous areas, very close to Regent St in the heart of Mayfair. Foods & Wines from Spain asked Barragán about how the idea for Sabor had taken shape and what its main objectives are on a culinary level: “About 2 or 3 years ago, José (Etura) and I started talking about opening a place together. I loved being at Barrafina, but it wasn’t mine and I wanted somewhere of my own... We wanted to offer something new to London that it didn't already have. The asador is from Castile and is the first of its kind in London. At Sabor we have three different sections: the asador upstairs, then the restaurant and bar on the ground floor. All three have different menus and each one offers a slightly different taste of Spain. We envisioned it like going on a journey through Spain – from the tapas bars of Andalucía, to the asadors of Castile, and the seafood restaurants of Galicia.”
Spanish food & wine quality
The chef’s commitment to quality cuisine, packed with flavor and personality, is obviously rooted in selecting the very best raw materials. We asked her if there are four or five ingredients that could represent the foundations of her work at Sabor, and her answer was nothing less than a declaration of intent: “It’s impossible to choose a few ingredients that are the stars of the show because the menu is seasonal, so the ingredients we use change all the time.”
While chefs are proud of all of their creations, there are always certain dishes that they are particularly fond of. Nieves confessed what her favorite dishes are on the menu – the ones that she wishes every customer would try: “I love all the dishes at Sabor but if I had to choose something it would be the Camarones fritos and fried egg on the bar menu, and the Arroz con salmonete and the Mollejas on the restaurant menu.”
What better accompaniments could there be for Barragán’s creations than fantastic Spanish wines? José Etura explains how they went about building their truly singular drinks menu: “The wine list reflects the restaurant. We have wines from all over Spain. In addition to the Cava, Rosado (rosé), Blanco (white) and Tinto (red) sections, we also have a section dedicated to Txakoli, and another one to Sherries. We have several vermouths too, including one on tap from the Riojan producer Martinez Lacuesta. Vermouth is not as popular in the UK as it is Spain, but we’re hoping to change that.”
Translation: Adrienne Smith/@ICEX.