Bon Savor

What if your Russian grandmother added a pinch of french and a dollop of tropical?
By ROBERT NADEAU  |  June 21, 2006
1.0 1.0 Stars

A FINE ROMANCE: Food at Bon Savor is neither fabulous nor expensive, but the place can be romantic.
Here is another breakfast, brunch, and lunch place (formerly Café Cantata) gone over to dinner, with generally pleasant results. Food is neither fabulous nor expensive, but the small place has a certain intimacy that can be romantic. And the story is certainly romantic: Oleg Konovalov, from Russia, and Ibonne Zabala, from Colombia, met in a Kaplan GMAT-review class. Their plan was to go to Harvard Business School, but they went into business instead. They read French cookbooks to open a French restaurant, but in cosmopolitan Jamaica Plain, they ended up using some things French, some things vaguely tropical, plenty of vegan options, and some recipes from a Russian grandmother. Even the name, Bon Savor, mixes languages. You could find yourself ordering a beef-stroganoff crêpe or “Chicken Ana Marie” smothered in bananas. Or you could come in for breakfast, brunch, or lunch — just like before.

At dinner you get a breadbasket with a biscuit-like bread, and olive oil with a ground-green-olive spread in it. After that excellent beginning, check on the soup of the day ($4.95). On one of my visits, it was cream of zucchini, an excellent homemade soup made with real stock and flavored with onion and parsley — not too creamy, but hearty and filling. Onion soup ($3.95) had three distinct (if not crisp) croutons, just enough cheese, and plenty of onions — and it avoided the over-salted stock so typical of this dish in Boston bistros.

There are lots of neat salads; we tried the tomato tartar ($5.95), a fashionable cylinder of tomato pieces that, though not quite in season, were picked up with a little vinegar. A garnish of olives, cheese, asparagus, and a stick of fresh thyme will work better with better tomatoes. Escargot ($8.95) is also a salad, with a balsamic dressing that does interesting new things to a dozen morsel-size snails, served with a bed of field greens.

My favorite entrée was buttermilk-thyme-marinated chicken ($14.95), a nicely grilled breast, not over-marinated or powdery, in a mustard-cream sauce. The garnishes were lightly scalloped potatoes and sautéed squash, perhaps underdone. “Chicken Ana Marie” ($12.95), however, is a little much: half as much grilled chicken breast in a sweet sauce of about two sautéed bananas. Still, I liked the side of baked rice with a few peas and bits of carrot.

The beef-stroganoff crêpe ($14.95) is certainly a value meal, with lots of beef chunks and a few mushrooms in a salty cream sauce filling two crêpes, and possibly two people. All this dish needs is more stewing time so the beef isn’t so chewy (or cut it into strips for faster stewing).

Seared salmon ($13.95) was just barely seared our night but, since it’s easier to correct underdone fish than the contrary, this was no problem. Handsome grill marks, too. It was dressed with a mint-chutney kind of sauce, along with potatoes, squash, and sautéed cherry tomatoes, which have “actual tomato” flavor this time of year.

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