Combining classic French culinary training with a Chilean family history, and a Wisconsin upbringing with flavors inspired by travel around the world, William and Loreto Marks of Restaurant Saveur have created a unique and exciting new dining experience in downtown Baileys Harbor.
As the opportunity they had been searching for unexpectedly presented itself two winters ago, the focus on choosing a name for their new restaurant brought William and Loreto back to basics. “We were sitting at the table in a Texas diner trying to figure out the best way to convey the essence of our restaurant through a name,” remembers William. “Loreto mentioned ‘sabor’ which is flavor in Spanish. Eventually, it evolved into Restaurant Saveur – also flavor, but in French and which reflects our training as well as the experience we want our guests to have.”
Perched above the main thoroughfare with views of the harbor, Restaurant Saveur treats diners to an innovative experience. Patrons will immediately notice the many changes William and Loreto have brought to the building formerly occupied by the Common House Restaurant. The deep wine-red hue, rustic wood, and iron accents create a distinctly South American feeling in the space. Original artwork by Susan Marks, William’s mother, graces the stucco walls and further enhances the upscale Latin feeling of the bar and dining areas. Beautifully set tables and bistro lighting lend elegance to the atmosphere. One glance at the menu and its accompanying wine list and it is clear that there is something fresh happening here.
“We are committed to providing an exceptional dining experience for each customer. Food is our passion and bringing simple yet surprising flavors and dishes to our menu has been our goal,” says William, who is also the head chef. “When something is your passion it is a joy to share it with others.” Loreto, known as Lolo to her family back in Chile, shares the energy and enthusiasm of her husband. “Bringing the flavors of home here and combining them with the ingredients and flavors of Door County is an inspiring challenge.” Though Loreto currently spends her time in the front of the restaurant, making sure everything runs smoothly, she participates in planning the menu and hopes to make a guest chef appearance one night.
Born to a large family and raised in a small town near La Crosse, Wisconsin, William is happy to be back in his native state and closer to his family, some of whom are helping him make Restaurant Saveur a success. Two of William’s brothers join him in the kitchen and various other siblings and cousins also work in the restaurant.
An early introduction to the art of cooking by an older brother-in-law showed William the possibilities available to him in the field. It also taught him the value of expanding his horizons. Working in and around the restaurant business since his early teenage years, William decided that attending a classical culinary school was the right path for him. After completing his training at Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa, Canada, William traveled and worked in kitchens around the globe absorbing local techniques and flavors along the way. It was during a stay in Colorado that William met Loreto. Born and raised in Santiago, Chile, Loreto is also a graduate of culinary school. Time working with the Hyatt Corporation eventually brought her to the United States and out from behind the kitchen doors to the front of the restaurant. Their shared enthusiasm for cooking and for approaching life with the same energy they utilize in the kitchen was just the beginning, and when William decided to come back to Wisconsin, Loreto was right there with him.
Expert techniques combined with global experiences have influenced the selections William offers on his menu. The first course offering of Jamaican-style jerked Duroc pork belly, finished with a grilled pineapple and mango salsa, brings to his mind the treasured time he spent in the Caribbean. “One bite and I can close my eyes and be transported back to that particular place and time,” he says. “I hope that my cooking will do the same for others, either bringing to mind a wonderful memory or creating a new memory here.” Approaching each aspect of the restaurant with the fervor that drives them in the kitchen leads William and Loreto to search for the finest ingredients available, local or international, and allows for the flexibility to fit something exciting onto the menu at any time.
Strong family ties have meant spending time in the winter back in Chile with Loreto’s family. William attributes learning how to incorporate distinctive South American flavors and styles in his cooking to his mother-in-law, an “amazing woman who has total command of her kitchen and who blows me away.” Watching and assisting her in the kitchen, along with wandering the open air Chilean markets with Loreto, have provided a secondary education for William.
With his classical training, evident in the ambitious menu and beautiful presentation of his dishes, William’s unofficial education shines just as strongly. Appealing offerings include the Chilean salad of white asparagus, haricot vert, tomato, and hearts of palm dressed with a cilantro and citrus vinaigrette and a favorite dish of Loreto’s, the grilled South American churrasco of lamb, chorizo, beef, smoked elk sausage and potatoes finished with a spiced lamb jus. A de-constructed Caesar salad paired with a delicious tapenade and the third course grilled bone-in ribeye with fingerling potatoes simmered with pancetta, sweet onions, Chilean Carmenere and demi-glace further demonstrate Chef Marks’ ability to create imaginative and delicious fare. Finishing the meal with a classic French Crème Brule brings out the best of William’s Cordon Bleu training. Not to be overlooked, the wine list also features an international bent with a particular eye to the South American and Chilean wines currently en vogue.
Now in its second year, Restaurant Saveur is gaining a reputation with residents and visitors as a place to taste a wide range of interesting flavors in one meal. As William and Loreto continue on their journey to bring the saveur of the world and their passion for life to Door County, Restaurant Saveur promises to be an intriguing dining spot for many years to come.