Dining Review from Nightwire
Nightwire Magazine reviews Savoy with the conclusion: “Savoy represents a new genre of fine dining.”
The following dining review was written by Suz Pisano of Nightwire Magazine for the July 2011 issue.
Nightwire loves to tell you, our loyal readers about the best of the best & the newest of the new restaurants that have opened in our fair City. This month I can’t wait to tell you about Savoy located on Penn Avenue in the Strip District. Savoy is an upscale establishment representing the “Good life” right here in Pittsburgh! Let me tell you more!
So we’ve all seen the billboards around town and probably have wondered, “What is the Savoy?” It was definitely a question I asked myself and Joyce, our publisher. We bickered over whether it was open or still under construction, we argued about what part of the city in which it was located, we even thought it was a private club. So very wrong we were—Savoy represents a new genre of fine dining, but that’s not all. Savoy in my best estimation is a club for “grown ups”! There’s valet parking, fabulous décor, awesome drinks, amazing food and even an outdoor patio! I will tell you that the outside is very unassuming compared to the wonderland inside. The owners took careful attention to every detail and you will experience treatment and spirit that has been so foreign in this town until now. The attitude is welcoming which is so refreshing and without pretension. Chef Kevin Watson has created a menu to please any palate. After a long career of teaching, catering and cooking for many of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and local CEO’s, this restaurant seems like the perfect reward for such a great guy. I declare Kevin Watson my new best friend! When you visit www.savoypgh.com please take a minute to review his bio.
Okay, let’s get down to why I have a new best friend and why I’m urging you to try Savoy…FOOD! A recent winner of Savor Magazine’s “Best Appetizer” for the Savoy Satays (Chicken 4 for $12, Shrimp 4 for $15), we tried the chicken, which was perfectly tender and glazed with a creamy peanut buttery sauce. Chef Watson wouldn’t allow us to eat the first plate that was photographed because he felt the temperature wasn’t correct. Now, that’s attention to detail. I recommend you give the Savoy Satay a definite must try. The appetizer menu is quite extensive and includes everything from Cheddar Burger Sliders ($14), to Chicken Wings (7 wings- $10) served with specialty sauces, and even Fish Tacos ($12). Let me take a minute to tell you why you should try a fish taco—they are simply delicious and making their way in popularity from the West Coast. My first fish taco was on Maui and I’m hooked. There’s even Calamari & Shrimp ($14) and a Chef’s Cheese Plate ($12) and Quesadillas- Chicken ($10) & Pork ($12). Most appetizer offerings are available in the lounge on the Lounge Menu. I recommend the Key Lime Martini or the Savoy, the house signature drink. Take your time with your drink order and let the knowledgeable bar staff assist you in your choice. You’ll want to peruse and spend time with the drink menu. Savor not only the drinks but the atmosphere as well.
Several salads are offered House & Chopped ($10), Pear & Gorgonzola ($12), Roasted Vegetable ($15) and Caesar ($10) with options to add Chicken ($12), Shrimp ($15), or Poached Lobster ($18). On the evening we dined at Savory, we were offered a Watermelon Cucumber Salad with Cilantro Dressing. Very cool & refreshing and the unusual pairing seemed so simple and yet so haute cuisine. After finishing our martinis, we tried a beautiful Cabernet Shiraz blend called Heavyweight. This wine is full bodied and not only a nice dinner accompaniment but would be great as an after work Happy Hour drink!
We tried several entrees and were astonished that Chef Watson supervised the presentation, photography, and serving of his creations. He serves up his food with a passion and a respect that was evidenced by a dash to the kitchen to get a glove to rearrange the fish taco for a perfect magazine shot (photograph). I knew from that moment on the food we would be devouring deserved our respect. I think I saw the term “soul food” in action. Chef Kevin Watson is a seriously grounded individual who puts his heart & soul into each and every bite. I was actually in awe when he spoke of his accomplishments. I felt honored to eat his food and excited to try what I’ll call “upscale down home cooking”! When I saw Shrimp & Grits ($28) on the menu, I was hoping it would be one of the Chef’s selections. I was ecstatic when it was served. The jumbo shrimp sautéed & sauced with barbecue over white cheddar grits will transport you to the South where this dish is quite popular. This is comfort food at its finest and I have no shame in telling you that I ate more than my share of the shrimp! (I hate sharing sometimes!) Probably THE most talked about entrée offering was the Chicken & Waffles ($25), it’s not the price that people are talking about it’s the plate itself. I’m not familiar with any restaurant in Pittsburgh serving this plate or offering such quality. I can say with confidence that I’ve never had fried chicken like this! My new best friend Kevin laughed when he heard me say this because he knows with confidence that it’s true! Tender, succulent, crispy and boneless! What?! And then there’s the waffle- Belgium, light, crispy and like heaven served with Pennsylvania Maple Syrup (which by the way does not taste like anything out of a plastic squeeze bottle!) AND THEN—corn pudding on the side. Jeez, I make corn pudding for special occasions and this one blew me away, so creamy & light and with just a pinch of the perfect seasoning. I was in Chicken & Waffle heaven and haven’t been able to get this out of my mind for 3 weeks! Remember I had to share and when I return to Savoy it’ll be all mine!
Savoy offers 2 kinds of steaks- NY Strip 14 ounce ($35) served with Compressed Mushrooms, Yukon Whipped Potatoes and Green Beans and a Bistro Tenderloin Steak ($25) served with Creamy Polenta, Baby Carrots and Roasted Cippollini Onion Demi. Tough choice! We were served the NY Strip which was perfection as far as steaks go and I literally fell in love when Chef Watson came over with a knife & fork, sliced himself a piece of steak, and said “I just wanted to see what was going on with that steak”! I realize that the Savoy was hosting us for dinner but that small act really gave me an insight as to just how much this Chef cares about his food. His presence in the dining room is highly regarded by the staff and servers alike. Our server Todd was excellent in reading the mood of our table and he accommodated supreme. He was pleasant, knowledgeable and even played along when we requested pretension. Todd really made our experience just that- an experience, which is far better & different that just having “a meal”. This is what makes Savoy different from other establishments- Pittsburgh doesn’t need another pretentious, segregated, snobby restaurant. You can tell that the owner, former Pittsburgh Steeler, Chuck Sanders paid attention to every detail and the staff fully understands his vision. People of all backgrounds coming together to enjoy the “Good life” with good food, good drinks, good service, and there’s so much more! Desserts!
With a passionate love for anything chocolate, I generally judge restaurants’ desserts by the chocolate choices on the dessert menu. Savoy serves up a Chocolate Lava Cake ($14) that made me want to snatch that plate and run to the door. I wanted to eat that warm chocolate ooey-gooey cake accompanied with cool & creamy vanilla ice cream & coconut cream all by myself! But then- the Lemon Curd Bars ($8) served with a semifreddo and toasted marshmallow arrived and immediately went from chocolate-y to tangy lemon and sweet almost frozen concoction that will knock your socks off! The Lemon Curd bars felt suddenly less decadent and refreshing, just in time to be served the Beignets & Funnel Cake ($12) served with Raspberry Marmalade. I’m a little choked up in my reminiscence of these glorious desserts and then I’m remembering the Pastry Chef & how she presented these desserts with such pride and passion. I’m also just now realizing why Savoy has private dining downstairs. What a perfect pairing- decadent desserts, amazing food, awesome service all in a savvy atmosphere.
Décor is by local designer Luca Paganico and he’s really captured the essence of some of the finest dining establishments in Las Vegas, Miami & New York. Savoy has somehow captured the height of elegance and the welcoming spirit of the Burgh. It’s the magic of good design. Be sure to take a walk up the stairs to the Lounge where you’ll suddenly feel like you turned a corner and ended up somewhere fabulous by accident. At Savoy, it’s no accident- this was the owners vision and again kudos to Chuck, Luca and his team. The outdoor patio deck is definitely a place I’ll be taking my girlfriends for drinks!
Are you interested in customized catering or special event booking for Savoy’s main dining area, second floor lounge or outdoor deck? They can accommodate. Reservations are definitely suggested. Parties of 8 or less are accommodated in the main dining room but for parties up to 14, there’s a private dining area downstairs. Private dining can be arranged for special occasions. Remember Savoy is like nothing you’ve ever seen in Pittsburgh and it’s not just for special occasions! With so many comfortable areas, I’m sure you’ll have a great time enjoying the “Good life!”
Savoy is open Thursday through Sunday, and is available for private and special bookings Monday through Wednesday and Sunday evenings. Dinner is served on Thursday from 5pm to 10pm and on Friday & Saturday from 5pm to 11pm. The Savoy Lounge & Patio are open from 5pm to 2am.
For more information about Nightwire Magazine, please see the Nightwire Magazine website or the July 2011 issue.