SAMPLING SARDINIAN DELIGHTS @ RAFAYEL EWELL
Posted by Francesca De Franco on 01 Feb 2020
Rafayel Sardinian Restaurant (formerly Il Laghetto) is a casual and friendly restaurant in the heart of Ewell Village. A return visit for me, I went for a lovely mid-week lunch with my dad and brother last week.
The restaurant has a traditional feel owing, in no small part, to the fact it’s housed in a building that’s over 400 years old. Whilst there are plenty of familiar Italian dishes on offer, the restaurant is on a mission to make its customers more familiar with Sardinian food. The island of Sardinia is Italian, but it is an autonomous region with some very specific types of food and dishes.
Set menu and à la carte
A very reasonably priced set menu is available Tuesday-Saturday, which costs £12.90 for two courses and £14.90 for three courses. It has a selection of five starters and a variety of pasta, meat and fish for mains.
Sardinian olives came out whilst we studied the menu and our waitress took our drinks order promptly. We all chose from the extensive à la carte menu.
My dad went for a veggie option of melanzane al forno, which is oven baked aubergine with breadcrumbs and tomato. I had a very generously sized and beautifully fresh tuna tartare with avocado off the ‘special’ starters section (not shown online) and my brother had polpo mediterraneo, a Sardinian octopus salad with cherry tomatoes and Sardinian olives – it was main course size! We were all very happy with our choices. Bread came out when we requested it and consisted of crusty white sliced and pane carasau, a traditional Sardinian flatbread.
Main courses and wine
Both my dad and I plumed for very traditional Sardinian dishes. I had fregola pasta with mixed seafood (muscles, prawns and squid). Fregola, which I’ve never seen on a ‘typical’ Italian menu, is a small pellet-shaped pasta, which has a texture a bit like couscous. It was a very flavoursome, well-balanced and filling dish – a perfect comfort food on a miserable day!
My dad had malloreddus alla campidanese. Malloreddus is a sort of cross between gnocchi and pasta and contains saffron, which gives it its rich yellow colour; the ragù/sauce is a hearty combination of sausage, tomato and saffron. My children had this dish on our last visit and thoroughly enjoyed it. My brother had linguine with crab. All very nice and clean plates all round!
It was all washed down with a very nice and reasonably priced Primitivo from Puglia. I would have liked to have seen a more extensive wine list. However, the restaurant does change up its list quite regularly.
There’s quite a lot of Catalonian influence in the food and cooking of parts of Sardinia and it was great to see Catalan style lobster on the menu. A ubiquitous dish in Sardinia, you rarely come across it in other parts of Italy let alone the UK. It’s a dish for two people. My dining companions had already made other choices so I’ll be returning once more so that I can sample it! Similarly, I want to try the restaurant’s porcheddu (suckling pig), possibly the most famous Sardinian dish. However, this is for four people and they need two day’s notice if you’re going to have it.
Aside from pasta and Sardinian specialities, there are plenty of classic dishes on offer such as grilled fillet steak, beef fillet medallions with green peppercorn sauce, rack of lamb, veal escalope with lemon sauce, Dover sole, garlic prawns… there’s something for everyone.
We were all too full for dessert so skipped straight to coffees and were then all offered a limoncello on the house.
The service was attentive but never overbearing. We really enjoyed the food and the ambience. The bill came in at £103.29 including a 10% service charge, which I thought was very reasonable indeed especially considering the generous portion sizes.
Find out more here: https://www.rafayelsardinianrestaurant.com/
NB – Booking is essential for Valentine’s Day.