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In Praise of Small Menus...and Savoy

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  • karen Oct 4, 2000 12:58 PM
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Had an excellent evening at Savoy last week, so I thought I would use the board to rave instead of vent. I really dig the tiny menu idea. It sure lightens up the ordering process.

The small upstairs dining room gives you two choices per course (we had the 3-course prix fixe). The card also includes just a few wines chosen for that evening's menu--with selections by glass, half bottle or bottle. Very impressive. They're the professionals, they do the work. I especially enjoy not having to get crosseyed over a list of five million wines.

By the way, the food, service, everything was A-1. (Tho perhaps a huge eater would find the portions tiny.)

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  1. Savoy sounds wonderful. Can I ask how much it cost (wondering whether it qualifies as a splurge or just a nice night out)? And what was the atmosphere like?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Pam

      Upstairs prix fixe I think it was $40 or $45, can't remember. That was for three courses. I must say that after our chosen dessert, a nice cheese plate w/nuts and figs, we were comped with a tasty creme brulee so roasty it reminded us of toasted marshmallows. (I am not usually one for cream desserts.) If you go for the three course menu, you may omit dessert or the first salady course. Because most places feed me way too much, which makes me usually have to (sob) forego the cheese or dessert, we axed the first course.

      As for romantic, I thought yes. You got your fireplace, your intimate atmo due to the small (homey modern) room, service very attentive but not at all intrusive. It certainly is not treacly Hallmark romantic (like, say, One If By Land) or fussy. Informal without being casual.

      Bit of a splurge for us, but I thought reasonable. I don't know how the prices compare with the downstairs but I intend to go back and find out. And hit the bar for good wines and Manhattans with home-made marinated cherries.

      1. re: karen

        I just ate at Savoy for lunch on Monday for the first time. I had the Duck and Chorizo empenada. While it wasn't at all what I expected, (spicy and small). It was Delicious. A large flaky crust, the filling had a savory duck mixture in it, along with raisins and a few pine nuts. I've always hated the later in my food but somehow they pulled it off, it was slightly sweet and savory. Which for duck is a good thing. Yumm. My friends dish I didn't care for, poached eggs w/ tomatilla sauce on cod cakes. Nothing special, but the empenada was very yummy. And only $10.00.

    2. I happened to walk by there just last night, and the menu looked just lovely. One point and one question:

      P: There appeared also to be the option of four courses, for the heartier eater.

      Q: Is the upstairs room suitably romantic? Are there tables where two might sit either side-by-side at a banquette, or at right angles, rather than across the table from one another?

      2 Replies
      1. re: AHR

        The upstairs room is small and intimate, but I wouldn't categorize it as particularly romantic. The intimacy comes from the connection you will have with the restaurant. There's a fireplace in the room that chefs frequently use to roast whatever's featured that day. The tables aren't exactly at odd angles, but they're spaced pretty close together.

        Savoy is a wonderful restaurant with the noble mission of supporting local farmers and promoting sustainable agriculture. Chef/owner Peter Hoffman really cares what he's doing. Diners going for the first time, however, should be aware that the kitchen seems to be hit or miss. When they get it right, the food rivals the best in the city, in flavor if not presentation, which tends to be simple. When they're off, well, they're off. My last meal there, about a month ago, was unexceptional, and our server was not particularly friendly. Still, I will happily return - and I rarely hit the same place more than once or twice. The key thing about the restaurant is that it is a very human place, often living up to its best side, sometimes showing its flaws. That's all right by me.

        1. re: AHR

          Thanks for pointing out the 4-course option. It was fine for me, I just mentioned the portion size because some people aren't happy unless they get piles of food.
          Re: seating. There aren't banquettes, yet the couple next to us sat side-by-side at a table for 4. You probably wouldn't have that option if the place was full.

        2. savoy is sublime. i love how tiny it is. i've had two disparate, wonderful experiences there: one with a rather large party, and one very romantic evening. the food was good, not necessarily fabulous; i think i had duck on the second occasion, a hearty root-vegetable ravioli and green salad on the first. what i liked most was the cozy atmosphere and nice service. we had a fabulous pannacotta that i ordered again when i went back.

          jamal, i absolutely love your characterization of savoy as a human place, often living up to its potential, sometimes showing its flaws. beautifully put.