Savoy’s supper-club atmosphere makes it move of an event than a dine-n-dash
Savoy radiates a sexy and sophisticated vibe that can be picked up even before walking through the front door.
This restaurant acts more like a supper club, offering food and, usually, live entertainment to guests. If you make a reservation on a Thursday evening when live R&B music is playing, you will be greeted by those smooth and soulful tunes a block away, as the music pours out onto Penn Avenue through the open-front garage door.
As you make your way into the restaurant, the sleek and contemporary interior, with a large, illuminated bar and textured walls, acts as a backdrop to the elegant white-linen tabletops, white leather chairs, and white leather pincushion booths.
As for the cuisine, chef Kevin Watson and his staff shine, creating a contemporary American menu drawing inspiration from Mediterranean, Southern and comfort classics Watson grew up eating. Though the food here is approachable and appealing, it is funky and cool, matching the vibe and atmosphere. And though the prices might seem a bit steep at an average of $30 per entree, the portions will not leave you hungry.
For starters, the Savoy Shrimp Satay is a standout. Four pieces of shrimp come individually skewered (think “shrimp lollypops”), fried in a tempura batter, and each served on its own bed of creamy peanut sauce. I first expected the peanut sauce to be heavy, but I was surprised how light and flavorful it was.
If wanting to sample a few appetizers, the Trio Appetizer Plate, complete with a jumbo lump crab cake drizzled with an orange remoulade, arugula salad and warm vegetable strudel, will give you options. The star of this trio was the crab cake. It was meaty with a hint of lemon. The remoulade not only added an additional citrus component, but also a necessary spice level. I would recommend ordering the entree portion of these crab cakes and skipping the appetizer.
Among other entree selections, my favorite of the evening of my visit was the Half Rack of Baby Back Ribs served barbecue-style, with a side of mac n’ cheese. You might be thinking, “What?! Eating saucy ribs in a fancy outfit?” Yeah, I did it. And I recommend layering up a few napkins and doing the same.
These ribs are ridiculous, in both size and taste. The half rack was served cut into individual ribs, about 2 inches in width each (definitely Fred Flinstone approved), and exquisitely tender, falling off the bone. The mac n’ cheese, made with curly cavatappi pasta and a creamy, gooey cheese sauce, was a bit watery for my liking, but served as a solid side dish to the ribs.
My favorite bite was when the barbecue sauce mixed in with the mac n’ cheese. The ribs can be ordered sriracha style, too, along with other optional side dishes of spinach, fries or corn.
Another entree I was excited to try was the fried chicken and waffles: boneless breast, leg or thigh served with corn pudding and either a red velvet waffle with sweet mascarpone cream or a classic Belgian waffle with Pennsylvania maple syrup.
I was so excited for this dish, but it failed me when it showed up to my table without the corn pudding, a necessary compound that I think would have heightened the flavor. Nonetheless, the fried chicken was crispy on the outside, moist on the inside and not greasy. The light and fluffy waffle — I ordered the classic Belgian — was served as two quarters of a whole waffle and topped with a light dusting of powdered sugar. Both the waffle and the fried chicken were tasty in their own regards and came together well, but the dish was definitely missing a little something, something.
Dining at Savoy is an experience, an event. It’s not a place to grab a quick bite for dinner. Dining here requires thought. You will want to make a reservation in advance, dress to impress and grab some friends to enjoy an evening filled with well-made cocktails, classy, yet comforting, food, and live entertainment.
Caution: The live music is loud here, often preventing you from hearing your dining companions. But, it does provide ample opportunities for singing and dancing in your chair.
Sarah Sudar is one of the food-savvy ladies of eatPGH.com, who contribute a weekly dining column to Trib Total Media.
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