The good ones always look to reinvent themselves, and in doing so, continue to push for improvement and progress. Sabore, with Chef Valero at the helm, has recently rolled out a complete overhaul of their menu. For years, many of the items on the menu were carryovers from the previous regime. The results of the make-over are a collection of dishes that finally accurately reflect the Chef’s personality and his influences. The new menu is decadent, whimsical, and continues to be a standout.
Some of the items draw from local influences as homages to fellow local restaurants. Antonio’s Burrata Salad (bottom left) is aptly named after Antonio Mazzella’s restaurant, Antonio’s Made In Italy, down in McIntosh because the man himself came in and showed the team how to make Burrata cheese. Valero then made it his own with the addition of 24 hour dehydrated tomatoes, preserved Moroccan lemons, local microgreens, and finished off with Italian olive oil. The result is a beautiful ball of burrata that quite literally melts in your mouth. The Steamed American Kobe Pastrami Sandwich is inspired by the steamed buns found at Crane Ramen, and the New York deli flavors at Dave’s New York Deli. A steamed brioche bun is filled with their house made American Kobe pastrami, cucumbers, and mustard.
Other items draw from Valero’s background such as the Grilled Spanish Octopus served with Iberico chorizo mashed potatoes, lemon foam, and organic baby kale or the Seasonal Seafood Offering, a selection of the best seafood from around the world that changes throughout the year. Charcuterie is now a permanent menu fixture with various-sized plates available, as well as Jamon Iberico, the real deal acorn-fed Iberico ham from Spain, served with toasted bread and tomatoes. Only a couple items from the old menu like the popular Tuna Toston and Beef Empanadas remain, though the menu remains very approachable. But then at some point, it goes a little crazy in the way that only an infectiously-jolly large talented Spaniard can endearingly bring to life. Good crazy, not Britney-Spears-Circa-2007-Crazy.
Yeah, the Kimchi Pork Belly & Grits served with sous vide pork belly, Anson Mills Carolina gold rice grits, and house made kimchi sounds great. Sure, the 16-ounce Pork Tomahawk served with a star anise glaze or the 16-ounce Black Angus Bone-In Short Rib cooked for 78 hours sounds even better. But then you come across some items like Foie Gras Cronuts (bottom middle) where light and airy house made cronuts (croissant donuts) are filled with a sweet and slightly bitter blood orange gastrique, served with Florida citrus slices, topped with seared foie gras and chervil. Maine Lobster Ravioli is lobster stuffed raviolis served in a slightly sweet lobster soubise sauce, with fennel, lemon foam, and butter poached lobster claws.
One of my favorite dishes of the night was the Filet Mignon a la Bordelaise (top right). A beautiful 8-ounce beef filet that’s served with a Bordelaise sauce (red wine, butter, shallots, bone marrow demi-glaze) and shares the plate with a big beef bone sliced in half and slow roasted until its rich, buttery, bone marrow can be scooped out to go perfectly with the lean filet. If you’ve never had bone marrow before, do NOT miss this dish, it’s some of the most flavorful yummies you can get from a cow. My other favorite dish of the night? Anyone who knows me knows I love duck, and Sabore does justice to the chicken’s more handsome step brother. The Duck 3 (top left) is a duck confit terrine (think duck meatloaf) topped with a generously-sized seared duck breast, topped with a local duck egg, and served with the same cassis reduction that dressed the old seared duck breast dish on the previous menu. If you’re a duck fan, this is a must-have dish, if for nothing else other than the sweet egg yolk porn that mixes with the cassis reduction to create a really creamy and flavorful sauce.
Whatever you choose to eat that evening, save room for dessert. A flight of house made sorbets? Cool. Tres leches? Pretty tasty. More cronuts? Why not? Fruit Cru? Who says no to liquor infused fruit? But the Nitro S’mores Experience (bottom right) is something else. I don’t want to spoil the experience, though if any of you follow my Instagram Stories, I already have. It involves smoke, fire, liquid nitrogen, and plenty of that signature Valero showmanship that he loves so much. The result is a big delicious Grant Achatz-inspired show that you eat right off a big butcher’s block. Oh, and it’s all done tableside so get your Snapchatagram ready.
The menu is a definite departure from the tapas-style dishes we came to expect, with the dishes becoming more traditional entrees with shareable sides. But it’s a good thing. The service has seen an improvement as well, with Chef closing down the restaurant for staff training leading up to the unveiling. Our server, Ashley, was extremely attentive and thoroughly explained each dish to the table. Expect to pay anywhere from $11 to $35 for dishes, and be in for a treat. Sabore has always been about Chef Valero and his cuisine, he was always at his best when he was serving his own specials or orchestrating a Chef’s Table experience. That now extends throughout the entire menu. What I said before about doing what no one else is doing in town, holds even more true today. As far as I’m concerned, there’s only a few restaurants in town that truly stand above others. Dragonfly, Crane Ramen, and Sabore has always led the pack for me. And Chef Valero just got a whole new set of toys.
by Ken Peng