Sascha’s two-story-high walls are painted a soft beet red, hung with dozens of portraits, and lit by a dazzlingly large crystal chandelier. It is an elegant yet casual space with 18+ dark red tables that lead into a pleasant lounge in the rear. While perusing the menu, we sampled savory homemade breadsticks and small bowl of olives and pickles.
The menu’s “Taste Plates” ($5-13) immediately caught our attention with items like Crab Beignets, Grilled Snapper Tacos, Mini Bison Brioche Burgers, and Cornmeal Fried Calamari w/Caper Remoulade. Considering the upscale atmosphere, we were surprised to see burgers with fries and coleslaw for just $9 and to discover that “Taste Plates” are half price during Tuesday-to-Friday happy hours. In addition to soups and salads, they offer six entrees ($15-23) plus a printed list of interesting specials.
Marty decided to start with “Roasted Corn Poblano Crab” soup, John with “Salmon Tataki,” and our friend, Rita, with the Parsnip Puree. For entrées, Marty opted for a Wednesday special, “Filet Mignon with a Cocktail” (a filet entrée which includes a cocktail!). John ordered Roasted Venison with a dried cherry sauce while Rita decided on the Horseradish-Encrusted Rockfish.
The soups were delicious and offered an interesting contrast: the pale pepper green soup was both mild and tasty, while the puree was an appetizing caramel color with pieces of sautéed diced parsnip and artfully seasoned. The Tataki was another winner with pieces of lightly seared salmon that melted in John’s mouth; it was complemented by crispy fried-battered zucchini and a Thai peanut sauce.
The entrees proved equally good – the filet arrived tender yet well done (as Marty ordered) with young asparagus and a big pile of french fries (all of which exceeded his expectations). Despite the horseradish crusting, the fish was surprisingly mild and complemented by a wonderful Apricot Chutney and a mound of citrus and tomato Israeli Cous Cous. The venison arrived medium rare on a layer of wilted spinach over a mound of creamy onion polenta; the dried cherry sauce was not overly sweet and worked really well with the venison, while the spinach and polenta provided a satisfying mix of flavors.
At our server’s suggestion, we shared a serving of Chocolate Mousse Cake. The incredibly rich layers of chocolate cake, mousse and ganache topped with whipped cream left us feeling like we had arrived in chocolate heaven. The delicious meal, pleasant atmosphere and reasonable prices, along with our server’s friendly attention, Sascha’s won a “thumbs up” from both of us and we’ll be looking forward to our next visit.
DETAILS: Sascha’s 527 Café (Mt. Vernon); 527 N. Charles St.; 410-539-8880; Open Mon – Fri 11am – 3pm for lunch; Mon – Sat for dinner 5pm – 10:30pm; closed Sunday); full bar; Limited veggie options; www.saschas.com.