Sent Sovi Transforms Into Relish Gastro Lounge
The hushed atmosphere and the white tablecloths have been jettisoned. And a whole new concept and personality have taken hold.
Sent Sovi in downtown Saratoga was Chef David Kinch’s stepping stone to even greater accolades as he went on to establish the Michelin three-starred Manresa in Los Gatos.
Chef Josiah Slone purchased the restaurant from Kinch, and for nearly 13 years kept the fine-dining ambiance, but with his own spin on it.
Now he and wife Khin Khin Slone have overturned that format, and launched a much more casual restaurant in its place.
Relish Gastro Lounge debuted in February with its reclaimed wood tables, color-changing lights, and soundtrack of rock and jazz. I had a chance to check it out a couple weeks ago when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant.
You’ll find 20 wines by the glass (preserved with the same argon gas system Sent Sovi used), along with 24 beers on tap. The menu, headed up by Chef Timothy Uttaro, former Sent Sovi sous chef, is made for sharing.
Though the vibe is laid-back, the prices might be higher than what you’d expect at a gastro pub. But then again, it is in Saratoga.
For instance, the deviled eggs may be $5 per egg, but they are garnished with caviar and white truffle. They’re a little hard to get at, being stuffed and served upright, and presented inside a snug egg-carton like dish. But once you dig one out and take a bite, it is quite satisfying.
Because Uttaro wanted us to try a number of items, he portioned some of the dishes smaller than usual.
Carpaccio ($14) gets elevated here with the use of buffalo rather then beef, which is leaner and boasts a concentrated flavor. Caper berries, lemon, arugula, olive oil, and candied shallot aioli garnished the paper-thin slices of meat, adding a nice hit of acidity.
Bellwether Farms Carmody cheese is served warmed and caramelized alongside thick slabs of toasted artisan bread. With so many beers on tap, it’s fun to discover interesting new beer pairings, such as this cheese plate with the North Coast Brother Thelonious Belgian-style abbey ale ($3 for a 3-ounce pour), which really brought out the flavors of the dried fruit on the plate.
Seared ahi ($15) with a celery-pineapple salad makes you think immediately of Hawaii.
Blue Point oysters ($14 for half a dozen) are divine topped with a fried caper berry mignonette that somehow tastes almost bacon-like.
Crab sope ($18) brings blue crab rather than Dungeness (given that our local commercial season was long delayed until just recently because of a persistent algae bloom). The fluffy crab is mounded with cabbage slaw, bell pepper salsa, and lemon creme fraiche atop a thick pancake of masa.
For the main course, the Slones, who obviously read too much on my blog about my husband Meat Boy, presented him with a tasting of the various meat courses on the menu — all arranged on a single platter. We’re talking duck confit in a pool of Bing cherry marmalade; short ribs cooked for 12 hours and finished in a red wine demi glace; coriander pepper-crusted filet of beef topped with seared Hudson Valley foie gras; and pork belly with parsnip puree and balsamic. You can’t go wrong with beef crowned with foie in all its decadence. And the duck had a wonderful crackling crust to enjoy.
For me, there was salmon seared well, and propped up on a bed of soba with a ginger dashi sauce, and finished with fried shisho and garlic chips. It wasn’t necessarily delicate in the traditional Japanese manner, but a bolder, busier, more California-ized interpretation.
There are only a couple desserts available. And Uttaro makes those, too, including a root beer float. It’s made with Abita ”Bayou Bootlegger’’ Hard Root Beer that’s 6 percent alcohol. Add a scoop of passion fruit sorbet and it’s a simple adults-only dessert with a taste of fun.
It’s a fitting way to bid adieu to Sent Sovi and to say hello to the new Relish.