It’s many a year since I had a date in a restaurant. Usually I dine with friends or a carer. I wanted somewhere nice to take my date-friend. Somewhere that would be intimate enough for conversation, but not claustrophobic. Sardus Cucina looked perfect. (There is a nice gallery of images on their website (q.v.).) Plus it was an opportunity to try genuine Sardinian cuisine. I had driven past the restaurant front in the day-time and the modern façade appealed. Whilst not situated right in the centre of Altrincham, it is only a five minute or so walk from the transport hub and only a couple of minutes from where we chose to park.
In the evening the subdued lighting and candles drew us in like moths to the flame. We were cordially welcomed by the young maître d’. And, as we passed the bar, the young bar-keep also greeted us. We were shown to a table for two at the end of a long banquette. My date took the place on it and I the suitable-for-me hard-backed chair on the opposite side. The subtle lighting, the low-level music and the candle at table all added to the relaxed - hopefully romantic - ambience.
The maître d’ offered to take our coats then brought over the main menu, the wine list and the specials list. He bubbled over with enthusiasm for the food, explaining a little of the distinctive culture and cuisine of Sardinia. Whilst I was snapping the photographs for this blog-post, he came over and chatted with us about his photographic hobby and how he takes the images for Sardus’ Instagram page (q.v.). An altogether pleasant, polite, enthusiastic and interesting young man.
From the maître d’s explanations and from reading the various menus, I found I was so heavily salivating I had begun to drool a wee bit. This is not a customary reäction to my being in a restaurant. Thankfully thick napkins were to hand! I was quite astounded at the breadth of the selection on offer. Even with my food allergy, I was not severely limited as in many eateries. The vast majority of dishes are made from scratch when ordered. This is a boon to anyone with a true food allergy or food intolerance.
We ordered a non-alcoholic cocktail whilst we ploughed through the offerings. Regrettably it is not included on the published mocktails menu but was itemised on the bill. It’s called a Crodino. The beverage has an orange base and was described as being similar to Apérol (which I personally do not like). The flavour was simultaneously sweet and bitter. It was so light on the palate and literally evaporated. These were served to us with complimentary flat-breads, a Spanish-style dip (not for me, but date loved it) and fresh, creamy, soft pecorino - absolutely delicious. (These items are all included in the photo above.) I did not even know that pecorino came in a variety other than the famous hard version (housemate’s fave cheese). The Flat-breads were delightfully thin - thinner than any Indian poppadum I have ever had. They seemed to melt on the tongue. Incredible buccal experiences and this prior to actually ordering!
For starters (image above) I ordered coratella, chicken livers cooked with red-onion, chestnuts and Sardinian “Sherry”. Housemate is not at all keen on liver, so I never purchase to cook at home. For me just having liver is a treat. However, this dish was perfectly prepared. The onions were beautifully soft and the meat-flesh required almost no chewing. As I write this I am salivating again. Perhaps that gives a sense of just how delicious I found this dish.
My companion ordered the frittura di mare (image above), which consisted of calamari & prawns and thin juliennes of carrot & courgette coated in a tempura batter. I sampled a courgette strip after picking it off date’s plate with my fingers - it was so light and no greasiness at all. This dish was served with aioli, which I cannot have. He ate the lot; from his plate, not a scrap went back to the kitchen. So thumbs up for the frittura and the coratella.
As my date was driving our starters were accompanied by sparkling mineral-water. Normally I should not comment on water. This was branded Ferrarelle and was very light on the palate. It is a true mineral-water, but did not have the salty flavour that many have. Definitely worth looking out for in the shops.
My main dish was fregola frutti di mare. I had to try it: firstly because, well sea-food; secondly because I had never tried fregola. It is a pasta made from semolina dough and then toasted. It is supposedly similar to berkoukes from North Africa and to moghrabieh from the Middle-East. It was a tasty dish and an interesting experience. Definitely worth trying.
Date selected a specials item for his main. Alas it is only listed as TODAYS SPECIAL (sic), so I cannot let the reader know what it is called in Italian. It consisted of boar in a thick ragoût (‘ragu’). He mmm’d and ahhh’d whilst eating. Again the plate was scraped clean. I think we can safely determine that it too was scrumptious!
These days I can rarely eat three courses; but Italian ice-cream was on offer for dessert. Apologies to the Cornish (my second favourite), but Italian ice-cream is the best in the world. I could not pass on a walnut & maple confection served with aranzada & crushed biscotti. Divine! My companion also managed to squeeze in a chocolate soufflé, zicculate, made just for him. Heavenly!