Saveur-faire

Pasatiempo - - Restaurant Review -

Saveur caters to both busy peo­ple and to those on a more re­laxed sched­ule. Its deli-style ser­vice, rem­i­nis­cent of a French trai­teur, means you can or­der a sand­wich or hot freshly pre­pared dish from the chef be­hind the counter or se­lect from the salad, soup, and hot daily spe­cial bar, pay the cashier, and voilà! Whether you choose a ta­ble or you blast straight back to the of­fice, you’ll be on your way tout de suite. The pleas­ant, re­laxed at­mos­phere is also per­fect for a leisurely tête-à-tête with a pal, a lover, or that leg­is­la­tor you’ve been try­ing to cor­ner. And mon Dieu, Saveur even has its own park­ing.

The wel­come is warm, from the smil­ing owner who greets you at the door, to the charm­ing chef who is happy to tell you about the food, to the jovial cashier. Every­one is ef­fi­cient and will­ing to take the ex­tra step to make you happy. There is so much to choose from that it’s tempt­ing to head straight for the daily trio of hot home­made soups just to keep things sim­ple— plus, they’re a good deal. One day’s selections in­cluded veg­e­tar­ian cream of mush­room, veg­e­tar­ian cur­ried carrot with co­conut milk, and green chile beef stew with chunks of lean beef. The cream of mush­room was rich, hearty, earthy, and deeply sat­is­fy­ing, no doubt be­cause it was made with but­ter, wine, and fresh mush­rooms. It cre­ated a lit­tle oa­sis of in­dul­gence in the mid­dle of an oth­er­wise har­ried day. A mo­ment spent re­group­ing and check­ing my mes­sages while sip­ping a large cap­puc­cino (more like an Amer­i­cano with steamed milk in a large cup), and I was still out in less than 30 min­utes.

The salad bar should be called some­thing else just to elim­i­nate any con­fu­sion with those all-you-can-eat night­mares. In­stead, you’ll find slabs of fresh sal­mon or sal­mon cro­quettes with tar­tar sauce, fresh av­o­cado halves stuffed with shrimp salad, a Cap­rese salad, a pasta salad, a Cae­sar salad, a se­lec­tion of fresh ten­dercrisp cooked veg­eta­bles, and other var­ied choices de­pend­ing on the day. Ev­ery­thing looks and tastes freshly pre­pared.

There are hot sand­wich spe­cials that sup­ple­ment the everyday build-your-own sand­wich choices. The chef’s spe­cials reg­u­larly in­clude two sa­vory crepes, house-con­served duck con­fit, and French onion soup, to which might be added a bistro spe­cial like a freshly grilled steak or chicken Floren­tine. The spinach, mush­room, and Swiss cheese crepe with white-wine sauce dish con­sists of two rolled crepes stuffed with fresh, per­fectly sautéed and toothsome spinach, mush­rooms, and cheese. The fill­ing made me swoon, but the crepes were not quite browned enough, leav­ing a slightly doughy taste. The white-wine cream sauce also lacked a lit­tle some­thing, but the side dish was a mix of bright green spring pea pods, as­para­gus, and sur­pris­ingly tasty Brus­sels sprouts. Ev­ery­thing can be pack­aged for take­out, so I took home the duck con­fit for an easy din­ner treat. What a great idea— so ten­der and fla­vor­ful I for­got all about the sharp bal­samic-re­duc­tion jus de­spite its ad­dic­tive qual­i­ties. I ap­pre­ci­ated the good value of a glass of crisply min­eral Louis La­tour Mâ­con-Vil­lages Chardon­nay at $7 in a town where a much less en­joy­able glass of wine is of­ten $10 or more. The Aroma cof­fee was dis­ap­point­ingly bit­ter, how­ever.

All the desserts I tasted were de­li­cious. The chef glazes the top of the ex­cel­lent crème brûlée af­ter you or­der it so that it has that per­fect glassy crunch con­trast­ing with the sweet, creamy cus­tard un­der­neath. It would be a star in any (more ex­pen­sive) es­tab­lish­ment in this town. The espresso-laced dark chocolate pot de crème is an­other stand­out worth stop­ping by for. Take it home and sur­prise some­one you love. The cashier of­fered to warm a large slice of Dutch ap­ple pie and gild it with whipped cream. The crunchy top­ping, the warmth of cin­na­mon, the nice bite to the ap­ples, and a good, slightly sweet fill­ing made me re­gret not be­ing able to fin­ish the gen­er­ous slice. The key lime pie is the clas­sic creamy and tart con­fec­tion. Whether you are long or short on time, you can sa­vor life at Saveur. Chic alors! ◀

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