Café Sauvage tells a love story, says cofounder Anaïs Lambert, who owns the new Back Bay Parisian bistro with her husband Antoine Lambert. It’s their love story — a tale of fusing cultures and upbringings together, of finding compromise between Anaïs Lambert’s African heritage and both Lamberts’s roots in France.
“My husband is white and I’m a Black woman,” says Lambert. “We encounter a lot of different ways we were raised by our parents. We have a daughter; she is a mixed girl between two countries, and we live in America, so it was important for us to bring that aspect to the plate.” Lambert recalls figuring out what kind of food to serve for the couple’s wedding day — the right balance between her heritage and their home. “I wanted French food but still wanted my origins to be part of that, so we mixed that day, and we mix again today at Café Sauvage.”
That’s what the restaurant is all about, she says: diversity and compromise. “Sometimes you don’t have to choose between French food and African food; you can just mix it. At Café Sauvage you can have a jambon-beurre with a side of plantains.”
It’s not just a reflection of Anaïs Lambert’s heritage: The Lamberts and chef Kendall DaCosta (a Bastille Kitchen alum) aim to present a multicultural menu that represents the larger picture of Parisian cuisine. As Lambert previously told Eater, “there’s more to Parisian food than just beef bourguignon and escargots.” And so diners will find banh mi, acai bowls, injera crepes, and more alongside very French-y classics like steak frites and croque-madames.
“The main idea is to bring that younger vibe of Paris, the most diverse part,” says Lambert. “The cool vibe where everybody is welcome.”
Hit play on Café Sauvage’s Spotify playlist, and keep reading for a closer look at a few dishes on the menu at Café Sauvage.
“This is a standard sandwich you will find in France, so it’s really simple in terms of ingredients,” says Lambert. “Smoked ham and [goat] butter with some pickles if you like them. You can find it everywhere in France. This is what we wanted to bring — that French side of us, so: jambon-beurre.”
While the jambon-beurre is only currently available on the lunch menu, lovers of sandwiches will also find the croque-madame, a croissant breakfast sandwich, the banh mi, and a burger at Café Sauvage, depending on the time.
Similar to the jambon-beurre, this is another “standard of French cuisine,” says Lambert, noting that you’ll be sure to find it at other French restaurants in Boston, too, “but not like ours.” The Café Sauvage version features banana anglaise, bruleed bananas, and some chocolate crunch, “so it’s really delightful,” says Lambert. Diners will find it alongside the aforementioned acai bowl and brioche French toast in the sweet section of the breakfast and brunch menus, but it’s also available as the sole dessert on the current lunch and dinner menus.
Available at brunch, lunch, and dinner, the burrata salad — sweet potato, pomegranate, chermoula, panisse — is a good vegetarian option, says Lambert, noting that it can also be made vegan (without the burrata). “We really try to please all the people who are willing to come visit us,” says Lambert. “It’s a family concept; it’s also about sharing our love for the kitchen, our love for the people.”
“The roasted chicken is definitely our signature here,” says Lambert. “Chicken [dishes] are made in all of our countries, right? It’s not something new that I’m bringing, but the spices that you will try are new. I won’t say all the spices because I feel like people need to try it before Googling, but the way it is made is the way my mom is making it at home in France, but she learned to do it in Africa. Everybody knows chicken, but the taste is really different.” Available at lunch and dinner, the chicken is served with jollof rice — a West African staple — and fried plantains and crispy garlic, with a sauce verte.
Café Sauvage doesn’t have its liquor license yet, but it’s in the works. “We’re French; of course we want to have wine,” says Lambert. In the meantime, try the bissap, a popular West African juice with hibiscus, mint, lemon, and a bit of sugar. Once the restaurant has its license, diners can enjoy it with prosecco. “This will be our signature cocktail,” says Lambert.
Café Sauvage is currently open Tuesday through Saturday, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and/or brunch, depending on the day; find the full schedule and menus on the restaurant’s website. Located at 25 Massachusetts Ave., Boston, the former Hsin Hsin Cafe space, Café Sauvage can fit about 40 diners inside and may eventually add some sidewalk seating outside.