.For the downtown lunch crowd–architects, bank employees, Geeks, etc.– the lunch options are neither varied nor plentiful. The terrain is even more scarce north of Houston Street, which is why Saveurs 209 should come as welcome sight.
Snuggled between a loan service and a parking lot, this fresh French eatery heralds a new day for the 200 block of Broadway, which currently feels like a bit of time warp between the Pearl and Southtown. But small, window-fronted restaurants are taking the plunge, trying to strike the right chord with hungry locals and bring renaissance to their patch of downtown.
Caitline Nykiel, a young Parisian chef, might have the recipe to make it work.
French food has a reputation of being small portions at large prices; Saveurs 209 wants to defy that perception.
“We want people to be delighted. We want people to be fed,” said Sylvain Nykiel, father to the young chef and manager of the restaurant. “People stop enjoying the meal when they are thinking about the cost, thinking it is not enough food. We want to feed happy people.”
The Nykiels understand their demographic. San Antonians like value. They like to eat. Lunch at Saveurs 209 will run $10-$20 per person, and you won’t leave hungry. Dinner, at $40-$60 per person will be all about the delight.
They know their audience, but there’s a healthy dose of progress served up as well. When pressured to move their restaurant to 1604 or one of the of the suburban developments, where higher-end cuisine tends to thrive, the Nykiels family said “no.” They believe in downtown. They believe in its future, and they believe in its importance.
The menu supports another renovation San Antonio is striving to make. It is healthy. At a private tasting, all of the dishes were fruit and vegetable-based, with a perfectly seared white fish as part of the main course. The starter was a cold celery soup with lump crab meat. One patron’s response, “Celery? That was celery?” That’s right, celery made delicious.
“We want people to eat more vegetables and less proteins,” Sylvain Nykiels said. Rather than promote their restaurant as “light” or “healthy fare” though, they are simply making it delicious. Healthy food is not a marketing gimick-it’s their culinary philosophy.
“Food should taste like what it is. When you order a banana, you should eat a banana,” Sylvain said of the confection perfection served up for desert.
The bright, modern atmosphere and haute cuisine might belie one of the most charming qualities of Saveurs209: it’s a family joint. A true mom-and-pop where Sylvain and his wife, Sylvie , do much of the work themselves, and beam with pride as their daughter the chef shows her skills in the kitchen.
San Antonio, a city that loves its food, should look forward to Thursday, February 28, when Saveurs 209 opens its doors to the public and gives us another unique destination for a quick lunch or a luxurious dinner.
Saveurs 209, 209 Broadway; reservations call 210-639-3165.
Related Stories on the Rivard Report:
The Feed: Winners, Losers and Healthy Eats February 2013
Eat. Meat. Repeat: A New San Antonio Carnivoral January 2013
Holiday Meals Should Be Joyous for All – Vegans, Too! December 2012
The Feed: Fat, Calories, and the Best Diet Ever January 2013