Sara, a sleek new sister restaurant to the Food Dudes’ popular Rasa, is reminiscent of a Stockholm speakeasy tucked away in someone’s attic.
We select a tidy nook and, once settled, are told that the dining experience is meant to push diners outside of their comfort zone. Phones are to be banished into the burrow in the centre of the custom tables. It almost works: the Caesarstone lid is so heavy, it’s a pain to remove phones.
Our congenial server tells us the format is small plates; we should order eight to 10 dishes to be satisfied.
Stretching our $100 budget as far as we can, we settle on five dishes and a duo of drinks.
Karolyne is drawn to the Supaisu cocktail (gin, anise, cardamom and vanilla for $16). Other Caroline opts for a simple $6 Aperol on the rocks.
We fall hard for the not-your-average-fries ($14). Potatoes are grated, slow cooked in duck fat, then pressed into rectangles and flash fried a second time in chicken fat before being topped with Kewpie mayo, kimchi and bonito flakes. A bit of math tells us it’s $3.50 a “fry,” but these? Worth it.
The laksa, chewy egg noodles in a thick coconut curry, get a thumbs-down from Caroline. At $19 for five slurps of noodle, you want something dynamic and exciting. But the $14 snap pea and Asian pear slaw redeems: fresh, tart and salty with pucker from the umeboshi dressing.
Then comes the pair of scallop-stuffed squid ink dumplings, topped with hunks of king crab and drowned in hollandaise for $20. These are some of the best — and most decadent — mouthfuls either of us has enjoyed this year.
A sweet end
Dinner concludes on a playful note. We opt for the PB+J ($12). The spoon arrives ahead of the dessert itself. The long, two-headed utensil is another custom make for Sara and invites neck craning from the surrounding tables. A glass vessel cradles two peanut butter mousse swirls, buried in flash-frozen shards of strawberry ice cream. Gussied-up Dippin’ Dots? We think so. Laughing, we feed each other spoonfuls, wishing that all desserts were such fun.
Ellacott trying the PB+J
Snap Pea Slaw $14
Scallop and Crab Dumpling $20
Sara, 98 Portland St., 416-985-5721