It is very rare that I rush home directly after eating somewhere and need to post a blog post right that very moment, but that is the case with Papillote in downtown Savannah. This quaint little cafe is located on Broughton Street between Barnard and Jefferson, and is so unassuming it is easily passed by for the plethora of restaurants clustered in City Market. However, this cafe is definitely worth a visit (or several!)
I’ve been to Papillote once before, but only got a cheese plate because they were out of most of their main dishes. (I came about 30 minutes before it closed.) The cafe has peculiar hours, but it fits with the light meal style of menu they feature. They are open Tuesday-Saturday from 10:30am until 7pm. Sunday’s hours are 12pm-5pm, and they are closed on Monday. Since everything is made fresh, they do stop preparing hot dishes a bit before closing, and the daily specials often sell out fast.
We went for a late lunch today and I finally got to try the Crab and Mango Tartine, which is served open face with a slightly tangy dressing, avocado, radish slices, and a few bits of grapefruit and tomato. I was a bit worried that for $10, I might not be getting a very large portion, but I was more than pleasantly surprised. I ended up not being able to finish my tartine, so I scooped off the crab meat, avocado, and mango and left the bread. All the sandwiches seem to come with a bit of mixed greens and house-made ginger vinaigrette, in case there wasn’t enough food to begin with.
My tartine was delicious. The lump pieces of chilled crab are well complimented by the sweet but not-overpowering mango, and it all melts together with the fresh and fatty avocado. Yep, I said fatty, and I mean it in the best possible way. I really love avocados because they are good for you (because of the fat) and add just the right amount of rich texture to dishes like this one. Even the thinly sliced radishes added to the dish, giving it just a touch of crispness. This flavors in this dish really exude a fresh, summer taste.
My boyfriend tried an open face sandwich they call the Melted Angel, which consists of freshly smoked brisket (sourced from the local bbq Angel’s) atop toasted brioche, smothered in pepperjack cheese and red wine shallots. He took one bite and told me it was delicious. I can’t comment on the sandwich, but I will say that the shallots are perfectly caramelized since I snuck a few off of his sandwich. Again, the portion size is huge making it a great value for $10.
The only thing I can really find wrong is that they charge 50 cents for cups if you choose to get tap water instead of a drink from their refrigerated case. Perhaps its because they serve your tap water in a fancy glass bottle that you get to keep at your table, but who knows? Next time, I’ll probably bring my own water, but it’s a price I’m willing to pay for such delicious food.
Another great bonus about our visit was that they sampled their Mango Passion Fruit Mousse while we waited for our food. It’s very sweet in a fruity sort of way, and creamy so that it melts in your mouth. A bit too fruit-sweet for me, but my boyfriend loved it. I’ll stick to the creme brulee myself.
One last piece of advice: The place is small, so if it gets busy, there may not be seating. If you’re planning on going, make sure you have a backup plan (as to where you plan on eating your food) unless you want to eat outside at one of their two tables in the suffocating heat. It might be nice in the fall, but summer is no time to eat outside in Savannah. It’s a counter-service restaurant, but it’s pretty speedy considering everything is made fresh. Just don’t expect it to be an in-and-out type of meal. So if you’ve got a bit of time to spare, this is a must-try place for authentic French cuisine, particularly of the lunch variety.
Overall Rating: 9/10