A globally-inspired, mindful eating concept, SARA is one of those King Street restaurants that begs to be discovered, and what better time to discover it than for my birthday. Located just off of the bustle of King West, the restaurant was where we had my quarter-century celebrations with my family.
Brought to life by the Food Dudes, SARA is one of the duo’s many endeavours including Rasa, Clay, Pantry and Blondies. But, what separates SARA from the rest is its modern minimalism. Not only does that extend to the menu of small plates, even the space itself is bare bones.
Situated in a two-level Victorian home, the decor is white, clean and sleek. The walls lay intentionally barren, while green and pink seating add a pop of colour. As for outdoors seating, they have a breezy back patio.
Encouraging patrons to disconnect and be mindful, I was pleasantly surprised to find that each table features a cubby to store your phone should you choose to be fully immersed in your dining experience. How unique is that?!
While I was super tempted to sip a cocktail, a birthday bottle of wine seemed more fitting. After some deliberation, we opted for a 2020 Spanish Verdejo from Bodegas Comenge. Crisp thanks to its dryness and high acid, it also had an incredibly pronounced aroma of grapefruit that sort of reminded me of Sauv Blanc. Definitely give Verdejo a go if you want to venture out from your usual wine type.
As for food, SARA works one of two ways: either set menu or à la carte. At $90 per person, the Journey Tasting Menu is curated by the chef and is subject to change based on seasonality although some cult classics always find their way into the offerings. While I enjoyed having the option of a tasting menu, my family and I decided to create our own multi-course sampler.
These latkes were one of a kind. Made with grated butternut squash and topped with whipped chive cream and a dollop or salmon roe, they also had a fabulous drizzle of maple kombu syrup. A two-biter, these fried cakes tasted of land and sea—salty, but subtly sweet.
Like elevated pork and beans, this dish has luxuriously rich butter bean and sautéed zucchini tossed with a tomato chili vinaigrette, served with fatty pork pieces and crispy kale chips. I’m a sucker for a bean moment and this dish was no exception. That said, there wasn’t anything particularly exciting about the pork.
About a quarter the size of a standard reuben, this teeny panini was packed with slices of savoury wagyu beef, melty gruyère and sauerkraut. But what would this dish be without a side of truffle mustard? This was so lovely that I could have eaten this (or three) all by myself.
Hunks of roasted sunchoke tossed with green beans and glowing turmeric fried rice, this vegetarian tasting plate was simple but well done. In two words: fragrant and flavourful.
This dish was massive! Each piece was fried until golden and satisfyingly crispy. Drizzled with a bit of raspberry honey to offset the salt, this fried chicken was one of the best I’ve had in a while. If that weren’t enough, it was also served with a cooling tzatziki sauce and a harissa hot sauce to keep things from getting boring—we did have to polish off an entire chicken, after all!
Banana Cream Profiteroles
The last time I had profiteroles I think I was a kid, so seeing these on the menu definitely evoked some excitement and childhood nostalgia. A favour from SARA, my birthday dessert arrived with a sparkler and a side of song. Stuffed with a custardy banana cream, the profiteroles were dusted in chocolate and decorated with a miso-infused dulce de leche sauce and flecks of sesame. Not super sweet, this was an easy way to end dinner.
I’m happy that I tried SARA. I’ve been curious about it since I first started venturing to King West. That said, while I liked the sleek design and thought that the food was pretty good, I found the price to be quite steep. Maybe I’d visit again for a bottle of wine and a single sharing plate for a sort of aperitivo, but with all the restaurants still left to try in the city, I’d like to explore my options a bit first.