SAN MARTIN: A RULE BREAKER THAT I WILL RETURN TO
by Andrew Chalk
All the online restaurant shows on the Barely-About-Food Network tell restaurateurs to do the same thing -- keep the menu short. It will increase your chances of delivering a good product. Well, I just attended a media event at a new Dallas restaurant where the TV was taken away and that message was lost. San Martin is a cathedral of food centered on the bakery that is so central to its home country of Guatemala. The dozens of pastries have a French emphasis with croissants, napoleons and bread, like baguettes (baked every two hours on premise). There is also a nod to American favorites with a line of cupcakes, each buried in butter icing that makes them a hypersonic missile to the best laid diet.
While bakery could be said to be where San Martin begins, it doesn’t end there. Six pizzas, all with a waif of a crust, in classic form like margarita, or modern like pepperoni with balmy balsamic vinegar, are a great starter. As are the soups. An intensely opaque, flavorful Frijoles al albañil (black beans) or a delicate sopa de elote (corn soup).
Spaghetti Alla Cardinale is a light and tasty chicken and pasta salad that just needs one thing, which will be brought if you request it, more of the red sauce enveloping the pasta. As designed, it is too dry.
Brunch offerings are even more extensive with all the usual favorites plus Guatemalan specialties. Right now, it is a little hard to figure out what is available as the online menus are for Guatemala and El Salvador. Hopefully, the U.S. menu will surface soon. In the restaurant, the problem evaporates, as the pocketbook-sized menu contains numerous pictures.
Make sure you try the Café de Casa (house coffee). It is made from fields in Guatemala and roasted by San Martin before being vacuum-packed for export.
Personable U.S. development director, Gabriel Castillo, is in charge of extending the brand nationally. He has quite a job. With 40 branches back home, that would translate into 774 in the United States. Can you imagine his frequent flyer account?
Dallas natives should hit San Martin for:
Lunch - midweek;
Dinner - midweek;
Brunch: it is packed by 9:30am on Sunday.