When Francis X. Hogan, executive chef at the brand new Sabio on Main in Pleasanton, traveled through Spain this past summer, he already knew he loved the classic foods of the country: Serrano ham, tortillas, patatas bravas. What he left understanding was that the Spanish are, more than anything else, good at innovation. The best meals he had made use of local bounty, of course, as well as tradition, but chefs also gave ingredients their own spin — which is what he’s doing at Sabio on Main.
We started with a cocktail from Darren Loveland’s (formerly of Meadowood) lighthearted “Spanish Mistress” with St. George citrus vodka, St. Germaine elderflower, and notes of ginger and lemon, made even more refreshing with the addition of cava.
The wine list, steered by general manager Matt Classen, is equally compelling and, surprisingly, not heavy on Spanish wines. He tends to favor local versions of European varietals, such as an Albarino from Lodi and a Tempranillo from Livermore Valley. These work well with the bold and bright food coming out of the kitchen. And a treat for those who want a special glass but can’t commit to a bottle are the Coravin pours, which currently include a La Jota Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon for $40 a glass or $21 a half-glass.
While the menu has a selection of large platters meant for sharing, it’s driven by tapas, small plates that allow you to experience more of the kitchen’s range. We focused on these, and were roundly impressed with the depth of flavor, composition, and (optional) wine pairings.
The Spanish-inspired interior design, by Jim Maxwell of Architects II who also designed Gather and Chop Bar, emphasizes intimacy with private-feeling banquettes on one side of the room and socialization on the other, with a communal table that can seat up to 24. The open kitchen is framed by copper-hued Spanish tiles and set next to a refrigerated charcuterie display with a glass door, enticing the obvious.