Superb Modern Asian Cuisine, Served With A Smile At Sacca.
Reservations: 971 333 555
Smooth new restaurant SACCA is the love child of close friends Jonathan Thorogood and George Lamb, finally opening on July 24th. When EssentialIbiza were invited for a sneak preview, I set off with an empty tummy and a sense of anticipation; after months wondering what the old Aura on the San Juan road would become, I was about to find out. If I could sum up the food in a one word, it would be exquisite. From the cool and deadly opening dish of pickled cucumber and chilli (€8) to the final dollop of devilish chocolate fondant (€11) the food came thick and fast and every dish was a mind-blowing mix of mouth-watering flavours. No sooner had we recovered from one welcome assault on our taste-buds; the next was upon us.
Head chef Lex Hauser introduced the food, whose Balearic sightseeing has been restricted to the steely confines of his kitchen during the last 3 months of intense preparations. But preparation, perseverance and positivity pay off, and having being tied up in Balearic red tape and building work since February, the SACCA team must have been whispering the very same mantra. When we dropped in for dinner the restaurant and bar were still to be completed, but even in its unfinished state it’s clearly going to be a sophisticated eatery for some high end schmoozing. Coming from the biggest charmers in town we expected nothing less; Jonathan Thorogood who owns El Chiringuito – one of Ibiza’s exclusive beach-side destinations, and his partner in crime – ex DJ manager and TV presenter, George Lamb.
The duo didn’t fail to impress with their passion for modern Asian cuisine and table-side banter. Most of the dishes were deliciously spicy, but the duck salad (€17.50) with spring onions, grapefruit and mint had a seriously lively kick. The bang bang chicken (€13.50) was a mouthful of pure loveliness literally oozing chilli and soy, and the squid tossed in salt and Szechuan pepper (€18.50) was divine. Charlie’s favourite was the outstanding beef tataki (€22); tender chunks of Angus beef skirt served with spring onions and garlic for another heavenly collision of flavours. One of my favourites was the melt in the mouth roasted pork belly (€23) in black vinegar, caramel and chilli – with perfectly done crackling. The sea bass (€33) was light and delicate, the tandoori chicken (€26) and lamb cutlets (€35) were tender and flavoursome, but quite frankly, I couldn’t manage another morsel. But wait, I’m forgetting the sushi – a serious highlight from head sushi chef Nobuhisa Takahasi, formerly of NOBU. The locally caught tuna sashimi (from €5 per piece) – tuna, chu-toro and o-toro ranged from deliriously light to reassuringly rich, with the most delicious wafer thin grouper I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting. I bravely downed the oyster shooters (€15) with quail egg, ginger and chilli, but not before letting the medley of flavours caress my tongue. I was in sushi heaven.
SACCA was first conceived when Deliciously Sorted’s Serena Cook tipped Jonathan off, and negotiations began. Once the deal was sealed he came to see his new baby in February. “I didn’t remember how it was, but I knew I wanted to create something special. When you buy someone else’s restaurant you’re buying their idea, so you have to start again,” said Jonathan of the intense renovations. “My vision was to create an authentic Asian dining experience set in a beautiful natural environment, with the best chefs, and the best service, in an understated way. I called George, who’s one of my best friends and godfather to my child, and before I could even finish my sentence, he said, ‘I’m in!’ The synergy working with him has been fantastic; it’s great having someone like him to bounce ideas off, otherwise it can be a very lonely job. Without him, SACCA would be very different.”
“It’s been really interesting working with Jonathan as our relationship as friends and now business partners is obviously different,” said George. “He’s 11 years older than me and he’s pretty bang on; he can be one of the most spiritually enlightened people I know. He knows exactly how the universe works and has been a teacher of mine in many respects. It’s been challenging and hard work, and we’ve been doing the work of at least a dozen men, but there’s no-one else I’d rather be doing it with. His resolve, resilience and rock solid determination show you that nothing’s impossible. There’s a lot to be learnt from his pure focused drive. Sometimes I’m too quick to roll over, but Jonathan makes things happen.”
“We’ve been friends for donkey’s years. I always came to Ibiza with the DJs I managed, and when I stopped, I had all these visualisations drawn up to do something different. Then I met Jonathan, we fell in love,” he laughed, “and used to hang out all the time. One day he phoned me saying ‘Dude, I’ve found the place – El Chiringuito’, but my career in TV had just kicked off, and I felt I had to follow the path I was on and see where it led me. For the last 5 years, every time I’m sat on the beach when I visit I’m thinking, ‘George, that was a really bad decision.’ So when Jonathan was ready to make another move, I was in.’ The decision wasn’t so bad, as after all George achieved major success with a string of TV shows including Big Brother’s Little Brother and more recently The Bank Job. “I’m not saying TV’s over for me, but I’m ready for the next chapter. I’m 33, on my third career, and a new adventure. It’s been an amazing journey and I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved. People come to Ibiza to have an amazing time, and I’m looking forward to giving them some wonderful, memorable experiences.”
Complementing the food was faultless service, which in itself can be memorable in Ibiza, orchestrated by former NOBU Cape Town General Manager, Yoram Perez. Many restaurants bang on about the service they offer but rarely deliver; leaving you a whopping bill and slightly bitter after-taste. “Customers are value sensitive, not price sensitive” Jonathan said. At SACCA the smiles were ever present, ever attentive, and they certainly knew their stuff. The SACCA team created the perfect ambience as well as looking the part. The guys wanted a chef who’d been influenced by all the flavours of Asia, and called Lex in Shanghai for some suggestions. Jonathan had interviewed Lex for El Chiringuito, and just like George, the timing hadn’t been right. But it was now, and over he flew. With only a few days to wait to experience the incredible flavours, and check out the new look interiors; apart from being a must-do on your Ibiza to-do list this year, SACCA is further proof of just how the universe works, that timing is everything and all good things come to those who wait.