It is so easy and, admittedly, great fun to be swept up in the summer flurry of restaurant openings. So easy, in fact, that one tends to neglect time-tested stalwarts. Case in point: Lusito-Iberian powerhouse Sabor Divino. On this particular evening, Sabor's vintage warehouse digs are hopping. Flames dance at the back of an open kitchen, serves weave among tables balancing bottles of wine, and sensuous piano notes linger among the rafters.
Supper commences with strata of Grilled Eggplant. These parcels progress from a molten inner core of goat cheese, to a toothsome but not mushy tomato mantle and, finally, a dense and smoky eggplant crust. A scatter of pine nuts doesn't stray too far from the mother ship, and the entire entity is one of strong flavours vulcanized with gentle heat.
Bocconcini Salad combines tiny mozzarella snowballs with multi-hued tomato wedges. Aromatic strips of basil and impressively innocuous red onion wedges play along, but defer attention to the salad's titular ingredients. An herbaceous red wine vinaigrette is a welcome break from the traditional lashings of oil and vinegar.
Bacalhau Cakes - the salted cod easily Portugal's flagship foodstuff - rest patiently on a peppery bed of arugula. A russet smear of red pepper puree lends itself nicely to the pair of piping-hot fishcakes, which are crunchy and not too salty, but it's a wee bit difficult to tell where the salt-cod ends and the potatoes begin.
Jamon Iberico owns the evening. Iberian cousin to prosciutto, these glistening, supple whispers of cured Cerdo Iberico pig are richly marbled and darkly nuanced with top notes of sweet fat and undertones of sun-ripened acorns.
Tiramisu wraps up the evening with a succinct, boozy-sweet high note, replete with an avalanche of whipped cream. Little hints of cinnamon and caramel set this particular tiramisu apart from other contenders.
At the end of the night, Sabor's owner serenades the entire house with an impressive rendition of "Georgia on my Mind." Sabor's secret recipe for staying power is clearly no secret. Excellent service, gorgeous surroundings, and bang-on food constitute a triumvirate of satiety. A good serenade doesn't hurt either.