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Sep 25, 2006 05:37 AM

Savory of Encinitas

I had tried Savory several years ago when it first opened and found the food mixed with not so good service. So my wife and I decided to try once again after hearing good things. What we found was much more attentive service, good (but not great) food, and some surprisingly high prices for certain staples. FOr example a mixed green and goat chees salad with nothing else added, and an average size was $11.00. And tea was $4.50. The main courses were more typically priced, ranging from the low to high $20s. The blue-fin tuna prepared with cubes of polenta, string beans and onions was ok. The tuna portion was generous, but it was not quite sashimi grade as advertised by the waitress. My wife had lamb shank which was very tasty. They have a large selection of wine by the glass, mostly from small CA wineries. Just a few French wines. Most are in the $10-$12 range.

Overall I'd rate it a solid B, but not higher.

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  1. I agree. We did enjoy the food when it first opened(Maybe because we are cuisine starved in North County) but the service was spotty and the prices climbed significantly. I also became bored with the menu. It is a shame because it has good bones. Have you tried the Market Street Cafe in San Marcos? I know it isn't costal but it is all that Savory isn't. The chef/co-owner is Michael ZonFrilli from J. Taylor's at L'Auberge in Del Mar. It is more informal but the food, wine, service, presentation, and pricees are great! Even if it is a little out of the way give them a try. I sooo want them to succeed.

    1. Savory was great when it first opened. Then it became impossible to get a reservation. Demand allowed them to raise their prices. Three years ago there was no quality "bistro priced" restaurants in the North County. Now we have Cavaillon, Bastide and Blackhorse Grille. I have no quarrel with the food at Savory, but they have raised their prices 30-50% with no change in the quality of their food.

      1. This is neither a defense or justification for raising prices, merely an observation.

        There is more to the rise in menu prices than just the food that's coming in the back door, or the quality of said items. I think it's helpful to keep in mind that while the menu prices are to cover the cost of the food, they also have to cover - rent/mortgage payment, equipment, labor, insurance, workers comp, linens/laundry, utlities, advertising, printing/postage, licenses and permit(s) to operate, pest control, phones and equipment repair services among other things. And hopefully, there's something left over for the owner to live off of each month ;-).

        Region has said that their rent was set to triple, it's quite possible that the rent rose substantially for Savory and the owner decided to raise prices to defray the expense. Region has elected to close rather than pay the rent. Repairing commercial refrigeration is a lot like taking a Mercedes in for repair. It seems like you can't get either done for less than $500. And refrigerators and ice machines seem to go down frequently, not to mention what the incredibly hard water in San Diego does to commerical kitchen equipment in spite of water softening (which costs money to do).

        Please remember that there is more to restaurant pricing than just what appears on the plate. If restauranteurs passed along all their true costs to we consumers, not many of us would be able to afford to eat out.

        4 Replies
        1. re: DiningDiva

          You are definitely correct on the miriade of cost increases that need to be included in the food prices but this is usually seen as an industry-wide increase and isn't limited to one establishement. We have seen prices rise with the high cost of gas for instance but you should be able to see that increase across the board. If the competition is able to provide a good meal at a reasonable price.....

          1. re: cocinera

            What do you mean "across the board". Gas prices went up, my small vendors simply raised their prices, my large vendors have implemented a "fuel surcharge" on every delivery. They passed their increased cost of doing business along to me, I passed it along to my customers. Housing prices soared, 80+% of the population in SD is now priced out of housing. Utilities have gone up, clothing has gone up, entertainment has gone up.

            Growers and packers currently are not able to secure enough (cheap) labor to pick crops due to border crossing crack downs. Some crops are being plowed under, some are rotting on the tree, some rotting on the ground. I expect, and have been forwarned by multiple produce vendors, that prices will begin increasing mid-Fall. And probably made worse by the current spinach issue with e.coli as increasing pressure is put on other greens.

            The vast majority of our paper and plastic products, whether used commercially or residentially, are petroleum based. They've gone up in price.

            Prices are going up and will continue to go up. I happen to agree with the original poster and the other comments that when prices go up that much there had better be a corresponding pay off in terms of quality, value, experience, whatever.

            It's been my experience in talking with people not in the food business that they tend to forget about the other costs. As I said originally, I wasn't trying to justify or defend the price increases just put a reminder out there, that a lot more than food goes into the plate.

          2. re: DiningDiva

            Raising prices can certainly be justified by increased business costs, but if they need to charge $11 for simple mixed green salad and over $4 for a teabag, then either they are unable to manage their costs or they have no sense of reality.

            1. re: PGB

              If the greens were from Chino Farms, then, yeah, it might be an $11 salad. I do agree, however, that a $4 tea bag is pretty high, especially for San Diego.

              One of the things that surprised me when I moved back home 5 years ago was how inexpensive food was here compared to the Bay Area where I had lived for 10 years. I thought it was a real bargain here.

              I do agree with you though, that there does need to be a good price/value ratio for restaurant meals, and clearly that didn't exist for you at Savory. I used to think that food was the most important part of the dining experience. But as I've gotten older and had better and better dining experiences, I've come to the conclusion that service is equally important. Too bad the service didn't equal the food.