Our weekly Food for Freelancers column continues with the glisteningly superb Sabor, an affordable and easy Michelin-starred restaurant with flair.
Freelancing is not without its frustrations. Well, one big frustration: late settlement of invoices. It’s remarkable how often a client understands “urgency” when they need something but is mystified by the concept when it applies to your payment.
On the other hand, there are advantages. You can work where you want, when you want, for who you want, but for the London-based freelancer with a love of food, one such advantage is the joy of the impromptu late lunch. While the contracted are reserving tables between noon and 2 pm, limited to a regulation hour away from the desk or – shudder – “grabbing” a sandwich “al desko” – those of us working for ourselves can roam a little further afield, enjoy the freedom of the post 2pm tables where no booking is, typically, no problem and, thanks to modern technology, still be contactable and working. It’s this type of “win” we’ll be exploring here, together with tips, tricks, and possibly even quick and clever recipes, to improve, we hope, your lunching game. And, with a nod towards that earlier invoice dilemma, all with a focus on good value too… Which is why, obviously, we’re starting on the edge of Mayfair with a Michelin-starred restaurant.
Relax. It’s not an exception to prove the rule; it’s Sabor, Nieves Barragan’s and José Etura’s follow-up to Barrafina, a little slice of Spanish hospitality tucked just of Heddon Street. The restaurant – which picked up its Michelin star in October 2018 – is split into three distinct areas. The counter is very Barrafina-esque, with superb tapas (that, for much of the menu, would sit comfortably in this column’s mission statement). El Asador upstairs – the only space available for reservations – is remarkable but a whole suckling pig is probably best taken down in larger groups.
And then there’s the bar, which is firmly in our comfort zone. The no reservations policy is easy to negotiate outside the lunchtime crush (and before 2:30 pm when the kitchen closes) and the menu is a short list of things you want to eat for, mostly, around the £5-£10 mark. Croquetas are exceptional, the brilliant Chicken Oyster Bocadillo – the best bit of any chicken, deep fried, in a sandwich – is, surely, a cult waiting to happen. But it’s the Camarones Fritos and Fried Egg that’s the stand out; a heap of crunchy, tiny shrimp, a runny egg that, even with a side order of bread to mop up every last salty, crispy, unctuous morsel, still gets you change from a tenner. It’s pretty damned magnifico, frankly.
35-37 Heddon Street, London W1B 4BR
Tel: 020 3319 8130
Other Michelin-starred options that won’t break the bank
The Ninth – The supremely talented Jun Tanaka maintained his star in the 2018 list and his Bloomsbury dining room offers a two-course lunch for £21
Trishna – Marylebone’s tremendous Trishna has held a star since 2012. Their bargainous lunch menu runs from two dishes for £20 to five for £38 and remains some of London’s best Indian cooking.