If being marooned on a Mediterranean island is your most-played recurring daydream right now, the next best thing might just be dinner down at Sardus in Altrincham.
If you’re anything like me, half the fun of being on holiday is spending the whole day trying try find where you’ll end up having your tea. And with any luck you’ll finish being fed by someone like Veruska.
The head chef at Sardus has been chefing for 23 years, and learnt her trade from the best, a specialised pasta course in Sardinia and perhaps more importantly in the family kitchen at the heel of her grandmother.
“My secret is the love and the passion behind my work.” Veruska tells me as just before we tuck in to her wonderful work.
“When I cook I make dishes how I would for myself,” the lady clearly has great taste.
Aside from a perhaps unsurprisingly high standard for pasta production, Sardinia also has a more unanticipated talent at gin production. Pigskin Gin is the brand to explore, and we try a myrtle berry flavoured spirit alongside the standard stuff, both need adding to that long list of bottles you need in the liquor cabinet.
Unsurprisingly seafood features heavily in Sardinian cusine and also on the menu at Sardus. It’s usually best to keep things simple with shellfish, and we begin with a classic, Cozze is a steaming bowl of mussels cooked in white wine with chill, garlic and lemon.
The most exciting dishes can undeniably be found in the pasta section of the menu, if you haven’t been to Sardinia itself I imagine there are at least a couple of things you’ve probably never heard of let alone tried. First we try Colurgiones, beautifully hand-made gnocchi-like potato dumplings stuffed with pecorino, served in a rich reduced tomato sauce and finished with a mint and basil dressing. If you read that last sentence and didn’t want to order a weekend’s supply of these lovely little things there’s probably something wrong with you.
Another new one to me was the Fregola, another traditional Sardinian speciality somewhere between pasta and cous cous, these toasted little balls of semolina are the most shovelable thing I’ve eaten in a long time, and the varying degrees of colour from golden brown to black make every mouthful a little bit different. It’s also fragranced with saffron, and all feels very paella-influenced, we’re interested to learn from our server that Sardinia in fact has a large proportion of Catalan speakers.
It would be fair to say we were very well fed and watered by the time we rolled out of Sardus. There’s always such a tangible joy that Italians take in preparing a proper feast and the booze on offer is nothing short of exceptional too, we were blown away by a herbaceous, spicy blend of Cannonau and Cabernet Sauvignon the Sella Mosca Tanca Fara is just one red from a expansive and incomparable selection of Sardinian wines.
Our meat and fish course drew in more delicately flavoured fruits of the ocean. Of course we like serving our fish in paper here in the UK, but this is something a bit more special than your chippy tea in yesterday’s local news. Orata al Cartoccio, packs sea bream fillets and fresh clams in a brown paper parcel with just a little shaved fennel and parsley for company.
Alongside, Tagliata di Manzo is a clever riff on a carpaccio salad with beautifully-rare rib eye steak sliced thick and scattered amongst rocket and pecorino cheese shavings. My only criticism would be the balsamic glaze which took over proceedings a touch, but the beef was all you’ll remember the next day, and probably well in to next week too.
Myrtle berries made another appearance in dessert, flavouring the pretty little Mirtu Pannacota, flanked with smashed meringue and passion fruit. Nice as that was, Seadas stole the day. Crispy, sweet deep fried pastries splashed with orange zest tinged honey filled with pecorino cheese. The perfect balance of salty and sweet.
At the time of writing Sardus were just about the enter lockdown, but you’ll be pleased to know that they’re back open again. Book a table below…
14-16 Ashley Rd, Altrincham WA14 2DW
0161 927 9001