Savoy Bar and Grill
By Jennifer Wohletz
There are some things in life that have a harmonious relationship with little or no effort. Like the way you can insert the phrase “dead dogs” into any Neil Young song, at any point, and it'll sound like it was there all along. The same theory applies to pairing good wines with cheeses, and pairing cheeses with appetizing accoutrements like toasted almonds, fig paste and apple slices.
Savoy Bar and Grill takes its wines and cheeses seriously, and it shows.
I had a leisurely lunch (my favorite kind) with my companion, Ike. Our server, Eric, suggested several daily specials including a fine grouper in an almond-romesco sauce (a thick, savory sauce made from almonds, garlic, onion, tomato, vinegar and dried red peppers, $13), while Ike chose seafood linguine ($10). We started with two salads—a grilled peach ($7) and seared sea scallop ($14)—and the house charcuterie plate ($10).
When the cold meats arrived, our small, rectangular plate held a dab of each offering: pâté, Prosciutto, Sopressata (Italian dry-cured salami), chicken strudel, manchego (sheep’s milk cheese), tiny cornichons and salt-and-vinegar bread sticks, all drizzled with a light mustard dressing. The plate's arrangement had the look of a Kandinsky painting, but the tiny bits of salty meats were, logistically, difficult to eat. We tried to use our fingers to tear a slice of Prosciutto in half and clumsily wrap it around a bread stick, but it was more trouble than it was worth. The ham was super-fatty, which left our hands greasy and our hungry selves a little annoyed.
Our salads were fantastic. The grilled peaches were served on a bed of fresh spinach lightly coated with balsamic vinaigrette and sprinkled with blue cheese crumbles, caramelized onion and red chile croutons. The seared sea scallop salad was a beautiful jumble of mixed greens, sweet roasted peppers, jicama and avocado all covered with roasted pepper vinaigrette and served with a sweet corn griddle cake. The avocados were underripe, but the scallops were delectable, being ever-so-lightly seared and not overcooked to flaking.
Wine flights are the best way to try different selections without going broke, and Savoy has some interesting choices. I chose the “distinctive white wine flight” ($11)—half-glasses of Elk Cove Pinot Gris, Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc-Viognier and Allan Scott Sauvignon Blanc. The Pinot Gris was medium-bodied and crisp with ripe apples in the nose (and excellent with our salads), while the Chenin Blanc-Viognier was sharper, almost stinging, grapefruit with minerals. Ike and I favored it the least, as it didn’t seem to meld with anything we ordered. The Sauvignon Blanc was badass. It was so complex with flavors like melon, lime and green bell pepper that it was the perfect foil for our entrées.
His linguine was filled with sautéed squid, medium shrimp and clams in the shell, in a vegetative sauce of fresh tomato chunks, capers, chard and a ton of very dry white wine. My grouper was amazing and easily stole the spotlight, resting on a bed of shaved bok choy, sweet peppers and roasted fingerling potatoes.
For dessert, we went with praline-chocolate torte ($6), a side of house-made blackberry-Chambord ice cream ($3.50), a small cheese plate ($7) and a glass of La Spinetta Moscato d’Asti ($5). Ike was so obsessed with downing his torte that I barely got a bite. I could see why—it was a dense, ultra-rich chocolate cake layered with mousse smooth as warm butter. My ice cream was lush with sweet, thick cream and a handsome lilac color.
The wine was a sugared sparkler smacking of golden raisins, and made sweet love to the cheese tray, as only a perfect couple can. We had Humboldt Fog (a mold-ripened soft goat's milk cheese from California), Taleggio (Italy) and English Whiskey Cheddar, all of which were of impeccable quality. I highly recommend pairing mealtime with Savoy Bar and Grill—anytime.
The Alibi Recommends:
• Daily fish special, hopefully it’s grouper
• Seared sea scallop salad
• Dessert cheese selection
Savoy Bar and Grill, 10601 Montgomery NE, 294-9463. Hours: lunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m. daily; dinner 5-10 p.m. weekdays, 5-11 p.m. weekends. Price range: expensive. Booze, credit cards accepted, catering, large parties, events, wine tastings—call for details.
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