Saba restaurant – a coeliac’s delight!

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Tasty food, great ambience, young and funky style.

“Saba” means “happy meeting place” and in my eyes is true to its name. Saba Paul Cadden’s eatery on Clarendon street has been described as a Thai and Vietnamese experience you’ll go back to. Cadden, former co-owner of Diep le Shaker and Diep Noodle Bar has created a gastro gem with a thai/Vietnamese inspired menu. Plus, the bonus of being coeliac-friendly! The menu even had a “c” beside the dishes. For once I didn’t feel inferior and looked forward to having a range to choose from.

I was with a vegetarian friend, so between the two of us we had dietary requirements, but we were sure to find it at Saba. For starters, I ordered Goi Cuon with chicken. This was rice paper rolls with vermicelli noodles, beansprouts, mint, carrot julienne, herbs and lettuce. Looked like neat tasty parcels, but they were a cold dish. I was expecting them to be hot. All the same though, they were tasty.

My vegetarian friend had the sesame asparagus to start. Char-grilled marinated asparagus with sesame seeds served with a lime and mustard mayonnaise. She polished them off with a satisfied smile and said they were “to die for”.

I couldn’t wait for my main course – from the curry family. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had a curry – a gluten-free one too! Chicken massaman – with potatoes, onions, peanuts, and crispy shallots. Chicken was tender, potatoes a good texture and the flavours blended well. The hint of chillies, coconuts and spices made it a truly delicious hot and spicy dish.

The other main was hoi an – brown vermicelli noodles with woodear mushrooms, chillis, sweet basil, vegetables, egg and cashew nuts. Again, a nice melange of vegetables and spices. My friend cleaned her plate.

On the side, we ordered black and red rice which was a welcome change from boiled or fried rice as an accompaniment. Each dish was a success in its own right.

To drink, we decided to sample a glass of red and white. We chose a white glass of “Le Bosq vin de Pys de Gard, France 2005”. A fruity, citrussy white from the sauvignon blanc grape. The red we chose was a glass of “Les Jamelles Merlot, Pays d’Oc, France 2006. A well-balanced, full-bodied wine with aromas of cooked fruits with a smoky scent.

For dessert, we were unfortunately too full to indulge, so we ordered 2 soya lattes, which complimented the dinner very well.

Paul is renowned for his warm welcome and for creating a lively, buzzy, atmosphere and this rang true. Atmosphere was buzzy, crowd was stylish and food very tasty. My one complaint was that service was a little slow. We had to ask for the menu and waited a while to be served.

All in all, I’ll be back to Saba and enjoyed my “gluten-free” experience with gusto. It’s definitely worth a visit for the culinary adventure.

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