Chic spot well worth the wait
63 Long Pond Road, Plymouth
Hours: Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.;
Sunday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.;
Dinner every night from 5 p.m.
Major credit cards
Accessible to the handicapped
It was a sunny, chilly March day when I was seated for the first time at one of the modern steel tables at Sabor Market. The opening date of this elegant eatery had been moved so often, I could hardly believe I had the menu in hand and was about to order lunch.
I was intrigued by the chicken fried steak sandwich ($10), but chose instead the Oriental chicken wrap ($10).
The crisp whole wheat wrapper was stuffed with a warm julienne of yellow and green squash and red and green bell pepper, along with pieces of white meat chicken and served with a puddle of Thai peanut sauce. There was a garnish of cilantro leaves on the plate, and I stuffed them into the wrap for added flavor. If there'd been any around, I might have put in some chopped Thai peppers, but the chef at Sabor has a style of subtlety. I found the wrap delightful, even without extra spiciness.
Not long ago, sweet potato fries were a novelty, but they're now popular on restaurant menus. Those I had with my wrap were crisp, sweet morsels, not the least bit greasy and impossible to stop eating until they were gone.
If you get the shrimp salad ($10), please remember you are in a sophisticated restaurant. As you bite into the warm avocado half sweetened with grilled corn kernels and bright with a confetti of minced peppers and onion, try to keep your ecstasy low key. The fresh baby greens come with a garlicky dressing. The pink shrimp are grilled so they're still juicy inside and spiced to a subtle piquancy. This array was garnished with flour tortilla chips still warm from the fryer.
As soon as Sabor Market opened for dinner, I was back sipping a drink called the Spicy Pear ($10), made from a mixture of Hanger One spiced pear vodka, Belle de Brillet, and pear nectar. The flavor of the drink is delicious and intense. It's the way you wish pears would taste, but they seldom do.
The main dishes are off in a corner of the menu. I let the entrees alone and started with the hummus ($5), which was smooth, garlicky, lemony, and just plain superb. It's served with freshly baked flat bread.
I went on to the figs and dates ($8). The former were stuffed with gorgonzola cheese; the latter wrapped in Spanish ham. They were delightful, although two figs and two dates constituted a small serving for the price.
I was drinking DeLoach pinot noir ($8 a glass), which didn't go well with the cheese. This was my fault, not the wine's. I know pinot noir isn't a good match for gorgonzola, but as I went on to other foods, the wine didn't improve. It's a well-reputed and by no means cheap offering from the Russian River Valley of California, but it never blossomed in the glass and remained plain and thin.
Not so the Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand ($8), which overflowed with delicious fruit flavor and went with all the tapas very well. In general the short wine list at Sabor Market looks intriguing.
The calamari were fresh-tasting. They came in a cardboard takeout container as if you'd bought them at a seafood stand. The batter was crisp and the squid were chewy and offset with exquisitely thin slices of hot pepper.
The hit of the evening was the hamburgers ($9). There's a reason why they are practically our American national dish, and these plump little sliders were made with Kobe beef. The flavor of the medium rare meat was fantastic, and in defiance to food snobs everywhere, it came with sides of mustard, ketchup, and mayonnaise. It was the part of the meal I'll remember the longest.
I admit I didn't wait to give Sabor Market a proper breaking-in period before going to dinner, but they certainly failed with the patatas bravas, which they describe as crispy fingerling potatoes with spicy aioli. The potatoes were fried so they were golden brown on the outside, but they were raw and hard within. I like my aioli in generous dollops, and the decorative drizzles wouldn't have been enough if the potatoes had been edible. I sent the dish back.
When it came time for dessert, the waitress led me to the pastry case, where I selected a slice of coconut cake ($6.50). It was a roll of sponge cake covered with a meringue frosting flecked with coconut. It was filled with a combination of pastry cream and coconut cream and sat in a puddle of crème anglais. No, I won't tell you it was decadent; it was in fact a pinnacle of refined civilization.
Sabor, pronounced "sah-boar," is Spanish for flavor. The "market" part of the name reflects a plan for the future. The restaurant seats 60, but there's also an empty space that will eventually be filled with fresh produce and culinary ingredients normally available only to chefs.
In the meantime, Sabor Market is a chic place to meet with friends, sip wine and cocktails, and have something delightful to eat.