Small plates, big taste at the new Sara

Food Dudes’ new eatery serves big flavours in a cus­tom-de­signed space by Karolyne El­la­cott and Caro­line Ak­sich

Bayview Post - - Food -

Sara (98 Port­land St.), a sleek new sister restau­rant to the Food Dudes’ pop­u­lar Rasa, is rem­i­nis­cent of a Stock­holm speakeasy tucked away in some­one’s at­tic.

We se­lect a tidy nook and, once set­tled, are told that the din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence is meant to push din­ers out­side of their com­fort zone. Phones are to be ban­ished into the bur­row in the cen­tre of the cus­tom ta­bles. It al­most works: the Cae­sar­stone lid is so heavy, it’s a pain to re­move phones.

Tasty de­ci­sions

Our con­ge­nial server tells us the for­mat is small plates; we should or­der eight to 10 dishes to be sat­is­fied.

Stretch­ing our $100 bud­get as far as we can, we set­tle on five dishes and a duo of drinks.

Karolyne is drawn to the Su­paisu cock­tail (gin, anise, car­damom and vanilla for $16). Other Caro­line opts for a sim­ple $6 Ap­erol on the rocks.

Savoury delights

We fall hard for the not-your-av­er­age-fries ($14). Pota­toes are grated, slow cooked in duck fat, then pressed into rec­tan­gles and flash fried a se­cond time in chicken fat be­fore be­ing topped with Kew­pie

mayo, kim­chi and bonito flakes. A bit of math tells us it’s $3.50 a “fry,” but these? Worth it.

The laksa, chewy egg noo­dles in a thick co­conut curry, get a thumbs-down from Caro­line. At $19 for five slurps of noo­dle, you want some­thing dy­namic and ex­cit­ing. But the $14 snap pea and Asian pear slaw re­deems: fresh, tart and salty with pucker from the ume­boshi dress­ing.

Then comes the pair of scal­lop­stuffed squid ink dumplings, topped with hunks of king crab and drowned in hol­landaise for $20. These are some of the best — and most deca­dent — mouth­fuls ei­ther of us has en­joyed this year.

A sweet end

Din­ner con­cludes on a play­ful note. We opt for the PB+J ($12). The spoon ar­rives ahead of the dessert it­self. The long, two-headed uten­sil is an­other cus­tom make for Sara and in­vites neck cran­ing from the sur­round­ing ta­bles. A glass ves­sel cra­dles two peanut but­ter mousse swirls, buried in flash-frozen shards of straw­berry ice cream. Gussied-up Dip­pin’ Dots? We think so. Laugh­ing, we feed each other spoon­fuls, wish­ing that all desserts were such fun.

Clock­wise from top: El­la­cott try­ing the PB+J, not-your-av­er­age-fries, laksa

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