Oct 10, 2014 10:44AM
● By Dia
If you read my first salvo as Southlake Style’s Foodie Fellow in January 2014, you remember that Chef Stephan Pyles is Dallas’ own celebrity chef, and his outposts are some of my favorite places in which to dine and enjoy a unique atmosphere. Now, in a newly enlarged space that used to house Pyles’ Middle Eastern-themed concept, Sumar, he has brought South American plates (emphasizing Peruvian dishes) into the bright spotlight he inhabits.
San Salvaje lies at the bottom of a downtown Dallas skyscraper just a block away from the vibrant Dallas Arts District. The d.cor reminds you of a museum with masks on the walls, room dividers featuring artifacts, and wooden tables stained a shade of purple. It can leave you feeling as if you can’t touch anything for fear of breaking something, but don’t concern yourself with that. The food is the star attraction.
I would suggest taking some friends along for the ride so that you can sample a variety of items from different areas of the menu. Also, have your server guide you through the choices. This is key at San Salvaje because it is not always easy to decipher just what the dish is comprised of or if it will be what you expected.
My group dined during Restaurant Week 2014, and as a result, the regular dinner menu was
slimmed down with the option of going with the pre-fixe that offered three-courses. Our server moved us away from the pre-fixe cuisine and toward a very exciting mix of items from the a la carte selection. Before diving into the initial courses, we ordered from the C.cteles (cocktails) carte du jour. Our table ordered four different drinks so we could get a cross-sample of the drink program at San Salvaje. The Pink Guava Caipirinha was the top choice followed closely by the Orange Spice. Both colorful, juice-based drinks have agood kick from their respective liquor ingredients. Much more satisfying than a margarita!
We ordered several of the Causa Limena Classico, which is best described as a tower of mashed potatoes, tinted yellow by Peruvian chiles, topped with poached shrimp with a surprise inside – a quail egg that once cut into runs its yolk into the dish adding richness to the potatoes. We tried a tacu tacu that featured a rich, tender pork belly patty layered on top of a banana chutney.
With a great start to our dining journey we moved on to the ceviche choices, as this is an area of highlight at San Salvaje. Tony (our fearless server) highly recommended theAmberjack Ceviche that was simply succulent slices of fresh fish with a small hit of a light cream-based sauce. This dish was a huge hit. You could taste the delicate fish without any overpowering sauces or flavors to cover it up. Up next were several Sweet Corn Humitas, which was warm corn hash with large chunks of fresh lobster and a fried sliver of avocado. This is South American comfort food! Another table favorite was the Three Cheese Arepas, which could be summed up as a Peruvian grilled cheese using griddled corn cakes instead of bread to enclose the warm, gooey cheese. Again, another exotic take on comfort food - South American style. The tacos we sampled, Barbacoa, were solid but not as special as the ceviche or the corn-based dishes.
We finished off the meal with a dessert from the pre-fixe menu, Capirotada, or chocolate Mexican bread pudding with a cinnamon-rum cr.ma sauce. Our group, who are fans of great bread pudding, decided this dessert didn’t disappoint. Warm, soft and with just the right amount of the rich rum sauce, it was a fantastic ending to our journey into South American cuisine. Chef Pyles’ travels once again bring his imagination to life in his newest showcase. Plan an evening at San Salvaje soon.