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Sage, Westport

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Sometimes, mixed metaphors are just what you need to describe the evolution of a chef.
A good friend, after his first meal at Sage in Westport, wrote that chef-proprietor Shteryo Yurukov “really seems to have found his feet/spread his wings”.
Yeah, you know what he means. Mr Yurukov has been working in Westport and other points in Mayo over the last dozen years, but Sage is the first time he gets his name over the door, along with his partner, Eva Ivanova, who manages the room with charm and skill.
Together, they are fashioning something rather special, and they have created a terrific destination address in Westport. The chef, in finding his feet, has been given the chance to spread his wings.
They have started by corralling the best suppliers along their stretch of the western seaboard, from Jerry Hassett’s smoked fish to the Friendly Farmer’s chicken to Joe and Eddie’s pork and Hawkshaw’s lamb and beef. Such care means that you order their chicken with pancetta and mozzarella stuffing with expectation, rather than the usual suspicion. The dish is a pure delight, packed with flavour and elegantly executed, a lovely Saturday night special.
The menu reads simple, but there is a monumental amount of work concealed in many of the dishes. Crab ravioli with chanterelle mushroom sauce, for example, is a lush, teasing dish that must have taken a whole morning of man hours to put together.
But Mr Yurukov hides the toil in a dish that simply knocks you out with its deft deliciousness, and its utterly confident execution. And it is that confident delivery, from both the kitchen team and the front-of-house team, that makes Sage special, and which makes it covetable: on the Friday evening when we ate there, the place was buzzing with energy and happy eaters.
Everything we ate was sure-footed: lobster and scallop gratin with an incredible coastline salad and samphire fritters; calamari with anchovy mayonnaise and another gorgeous salad of Mayo leaves and flowers from Joe Kelly. The only thing that didn’t work was their baklava, which is served warm as requested by customers. Sorry customers, but baklava doesn’t need the heat. Ask them to leave it alone and just savour it with fine orange ice cream.
The wine list is concise and smart, sourced from Liam Cabot and Jim Nicholson, the staff live up to Ms Ivanova’s exacting standards of excellence, and Sage is a mighty enterprise. So, head off to Westport and get ready to mix your own metaphors.

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