With an opening date looming for his new restaurant San Salvaje, chef Stephan Pyles hosted a preview to showcase menu items to a group of media folks. The restaurant is tentatively scheduled to open on May 1.
Spanish for "wild saint," San Salvaje takes over the space at 2100 Ross Ave. that was previously Samar, which closed during a remodel of the building. Pyles chose to recast the restaurant with a broader menu, including dishes from Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Cuba and the Caribbean.
Menu items previewed included a cone-shaped Peruvian layered potato dish called causa limena, with spicy shrimp and a quail egg in the center. Tacu tacu, another Peruvian dish that Pyles likened to a rice cake, came topped with foie gras and caramelized banana.
Empanadas filled with mushroom and huitlaoche came with a guava sauce and an unusual garnish of "corn shoots." There was a Peruvian version of crudo called grouper "tiradito," with accents of fennel and vanilla. The Big Dish was a "modern" ropa vieja, the Cuban stewed beef dish, served with the classic Cuban black beans and white rice.
Desserts include doughnuts! Yay doughnuts. These were Peruvian doughnuts dusted with sugar called picarones, with cooked sweet potato mixed into the batter.
The layout has changed, with the entrance now to the left and a more boxy, less rambling dining room. Room dividers display art in gorgeous jewel-tone colors. An installation of silver crosses and masks hangs on the back wall of the bar.
The tops of the tables are splashed with color, coded into sections: red for the dining room, orange for the bar. Two expansive booths had yellow tops, which Pyles jokingly said were the most exclusive seats.