Saveur: Small Town Charm with a European Flair

Date July 31, 2008 at 10:00 PM

Author Phantom Foodie

Publication SantaFe.com

Categories Health & Beauty

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As soon as you arrive, you will see patrons meeting and greeting Dee Rusanowski who circulates around the room when she is not at the cash register. With Dee's kindhearted nature, patrons love to talk to her about everything...including their travel plans and life challenges. Bernie Rusanowski, wearing his chef's hat, is generally behind the counter working with the other chefs on custom sandwich orders or plating the chalkboard specials. Their children are also active in the business. (The Rusanowskis are known to long-time Santa Feans as owners of the former Dee's Donuts on Washington Avenue, a Santa Fe institution for over 20 years.)

The walls of Saveur are filled with pictures of Dee and Bernie with some of the great chefs of Europe, a place they visit every year. Their passion is food and their mission is to bring to Santa Fe many of the great food ideas that Europeans enjoy on a daily basis. They are always in search of the perfect meal and a great bottle of wine.

At lunch, they purvey their scrumptious fare in a three-prong strategy: a sandwich station, daily specials, and a hot and cold salad bar. As you enter, the sandwich station offers a menu from which you may select-what seems like endless choices-meat, vegetables, cheeses, spreads, condiments and/or breads. The chef behind the counter will prepare your custom sandwich, as good or better than anything you could create at home (especially since home kitchens are not equipped like Saveur!). Fresh, quality ingredients, apparent with every bite, are a key to Saveur's success.

My favorite sandwich, the New Mexican ($13.00), is grilled panini-style on sourdough bread, with sliced turkey breast, your choice of cheese, mayo, and green chile-served warm. Another favorite hot sandwich selection is the half-pound green chile cheeseburger.

If you're looking for something other than a sandwich, a selection of specials is written on a board above the display case. They might include lobster crêpes, beef short ribs or chicken piccata. Your options change daily and are usually European-inspired creations.

The pièce de résistance-at least for me-is the salad bar, which sits majestically on a large bed of ice with the swankiest offerings in town. All items are sold by the pound (there is a scale at the end of the cash register) including gourmet mixed greens, Caesar salad, pickled beets, steamed chilled artichoke quarters, insalata caprese, chilled tilapia or Salmon filets, Asian spiced sugar peas, chilled bow tie pasta with broccoli and sun dried tomatoes, and gourmet potato salad. The salad station sits next to a two entrée chafing dish with selections such as carne adovada, Yankee pot roast, or roast chicken-hot and ready to scoop. Next are three fresh soup choices, sold by the bowl or cup. Saveur's mainstay is a baked French onion soup bubbling over with melted cheese.

A dessert and pastry selection round out the menu. (I am always amazed by the realization that many people still have room for dessert.) One of my favorites is the pot au chocolate, French baked custard with a decadently intense chocolate flavor. Another excellent choice is crème brûlée. Pies and cookies are also available.

Every time I dine at Saveur restaurant I have a new culinary adventure. Their concept is casual yet sophisticated, so much so that I recommend this restaurant to gourmet diners, especially those who have enjoyed dining in Europe.

Breakfast is served Monday thru Friday 7:45-10:30 am. Saveur serves eggs any style, including omelettes, breakfast burritos, bacon, sausage, ham, potatoes, croissants, pastries, great coffee, and tea.

There are less expensive restaurants in town. Keep in mind that the salad bar and hot daily entrées are priced by weight-so the ball is in your court.

This review is a loud round of applause for the food served here, but as you can tell the popularity of this restaurant extends far beyond the munchability factor. A pleasing sense of calm and family-like atmosphere welcomes you, which makes many of us who eat at Saveur feel that we are in a special place. I call it the "Mayberry factor;"€ in this crazy world we all need a safe haven to shelter us from the storm.

Eat on and remember my mantra..."Let's make the next meal the best meal you ever ate." -The Phantom Foodie

Raves: Quality, selection, friendly atmosphere.
Rants: Pricey. Lunch can run from $10 - $30 per person.

Saveur

204 Montezuma, Santa Fe, NM
505-989-4200
Hours: 7:45 am-3:45 pm Monday-Friday. Breakfast is served until 10:30 am.
At 3:15 pm the remaining soup and salad bar items are discounted 30% and at 3:30 pm they are 50% off (for take-out orders only).

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