Savoy

by Susan on November 4, 2007

[Food:2.5/5]

Seventeen years ago, Peter Hoffman opened Savoy. A sourcing pioneer, Hoffman was determined to showcase the flavors of local ingredients in his home-style cooking. By surviving an eternity in the ever revolving door of restaurant openings, closings and re-inventions, Savoy has achieved quite a feat and I was anxious to experience food from a kitchen that has lasted close to two decades. The culinary world continues to evolve, providing many more organic and consciously-sourced raw ingredients, both to restaurants and to those who cook at home. Our palates have learned to differentiate between organic and non-organic meat; our keen eyes have begun to recognize the names of farms; our conscious minds ask more questions about the origination of food that is put in front of us. Suddenly, breeds of lamb lovingly raised for consumption cannot stand alone on our plates. We’ve tasted the high quality elsewhere and our matured palates require more from the dishes. Even those who have forged the way must now keep up.  Savoy

Savoy is housed on two floors of a townhouse in SoHo and for dinner you’re well advised to request a table on the second floor. The second floor was abuzz with conversation and aside from the urban crowd, there are moments you might believe you’re tucked away on a country road. The tables situated along the walls are pushed closely together, but we were never bothered by our neighbors. Service was disappointing from the moment we sat down. I constantly hoped it would improve, but it was consistently unimpressive. Our server, though sweet, disappeared for long stretches at a time (a seemingly impossible feat considering the small dining area) and empty plates from each course were left on the table for minutes too long. I simply never felt that she cared about our experience at Savoy.

It is rare to find a sausage that stands boldly on its own and does not require either a pile of grilled peppers and onions or a dip of mustard. Meet Savoy’s Homemade Pork Sausage, plump with moist ground pork and flavor. The Grilled Shrimp were a bit too simple and while promises of pomegranate seeds and citrus heirloom were fulfilled, it was done with such little fanfare that to notice their presence took great concentration. Despite a typical combination of beets and cheese in the Marinated Beet Salad, a reversal of the expected textures and flavors delivered a unique dish. In Savoy’s version, marinade-softened beets, infused with a light, yet slightly salty flavor from the seasoned liquid are paired with a mild fromage blanc. The inclusion of snails in the Red Wine Risotto stood out as the most interesting starter, though whether ill-conceived or ill-prepared, the dish was a disappointment. The risotto lacked creaminess, tasting more watered down than rich and while flavorful, the snails were not a cohesive part of the dish.

The Duck Baked with a Salt Crust was a magnificent piece of meat. It was immensely flavorful and though cooked a bit more to the medium side, was extremely tender. The encasing layer of fat was seasoned well. The accompanying roasted bites of sweet potato provided a good flavor contrast without too much sugar. The amount of velvety parsnip puree was so miniscule it was almost invisible. The Lamb Shank, braised and falling off the bone, arrives in a bowl of juices and cauliflower. I was expecting a heavier dish and while there was something refreshing about a lighter piece of lamb, I found myself wishing the dish was more robust. The Pork Roulade was yet another stunning cut of meat, but the accompaniments of polenta, marmalade and pecans vanished in the first handful of bites, leaving one very large piece of pork, albeit a succulent one, to be devoured on its lonesome. The Brussel Sprouts we ordered as a side were simply roasted and a bit too bitter. The bacon lardons were sufficiently salty, but somehow they did not impart enough flavor onto the brussel sprouts.

To only order one Chocolate and Caramel Trifle was a mistake. The complexity and melding of flavors and textures is nothing short of brilliant. After we all dipped our spoons and experienced a bite of this salty, sweet, creamy and crumbly confection, the mistake was so blatant that we caucused on ordering a second. The Autumn Harvest Crisp, featuring pear, squash, dried cherries and topped with walnut ice cream was the second place winner. The melange of fruits was unique and each flavor emerges on its own without overpowering its partners. Served in a shallow dish, every bite was equal parts fruit, topping, and ice cream. The Mission Fig Tart, which attempts contrast through its peppercorn poached figs and honeyed yogurt, was bland. The taste of peppercorns and honey never came to fruition leaving the dish to fall flat.

While there were a few standout dishes, overall Savoy was good, but far from great.

Savoy
www.savoynyc.com
70 Prince Street
New York, NY 10012
(212) 219-8570

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