Forget the gold-coated steaks and whips, the true meat connoisseur should head to Sagardi this month and try the ultimate cut – Txuleton.
Sagardi is not a place for vegetarians. Upon entering this cave-like restaurant which is lit as much by its huge charcoal barbecue as it is by electricity, you can’t miss the refrigerated cabinet displaying all kinds of wonderful marbled cuts of beef.
Beef is their business, Basque beef – big, bold and beautiful. Cooked over charcoal, which is the only way to do it. Especially when it is Argentinian quebracho coal.
This month is very special, “Esentzia Sagardi” is a six-course menu from a collaboration between Gregorio Tolosa, chef at one of the most gourmet restaurants in Spain, Bidea2 in Pamplona (two Repsol Suns) and Mikel Lopez de Viñaspre, chef at Sagardi Group.
They use cuts of meat from the main meat suppliers in Spain and the current supplier of Sagardi, Discarlux meat, a real star of the show.
This is Galician Txuleton beef, over ten years old and carefully matured for 30 days in a Dry Ager chamber, today an entire side is exposed and cut to order.
We first eat the “mixto” tongue sandwich, very small toast au gratin with just enough mustard to make the languages sing, then we move on to the Carpaccio matured with Palamós red prawns.
We roll the shrimp in the carpaccio like a body in a mat, accompanied by a rich sauce made from the shell and shrimp head. It’s like eating the sea; so evocative that you can almost hear the seagulls, and the carpaccio simply melts.
Next come the beef tartare and the heart of Barbate almadraba tuna. The most incredible of Txuleton beef tartars has the grated tuna core on it, with little melting nuggets of beef fat added.
This is one of the best things I have eaten all year round, now I doubt that by the end of 2021 I will eat any better.
Oh but wait, the Beltza Wild Mushroom Beef Sweetbreads is also remarkable. Expertly seared sweetbreads with a crispy exterior, the centers still melted. The mushrooms are magic, a superb juice bathes the whole. Rustic Crisp Bread takes it all out.
And now the Txuleton, massive whole steaks expertly seared on the grill, so the outside is crisp and smoky and the inside very rare indeed.
Tuxuleton, or entrecote, usually comes from the Rubia Gallega cow. It is a cow from northwestern Spain that can be up to 18 years old before it is turned into steaks. In the Basque Country, old dairy cows are used. The reason is that mature muscle and fat taste better and myoglobin in the muscles means redder meat.
It is served in thick slices, accompanied by its magnificent creamy fat and a traditional refreshing green salad of lettuce and onions seasoned with oil, lemon juice and salt. It’s a perfect match.
I can’t really do justice to the taste and texture of the meat, but if you’re not a fan of the rare served steak, let me reassure you that this will convert you completely.
After this triumphant main course, it was a leisurely descent to dessert and pineapple, vanilla and fire – a recipe from Pierre Hermé. Pineapple is of course roasted on the grill, which makes pineapple a whole new fruit.
It is an unmissable event for all serious meat and grill lovers. You simply won’t find a better steak meal in London.
The new Esentzia Sagardi menu is priced at £ 85, available for lunch and dinner from today Tuesday 9e November until the end of the month for tables of two or more.
Photos taken by Sagardi at lunch.