Friday, August 23, 2013

The Savoy or A Breath of Fresh Sea Air

The Slow and Savory Review

There was a time long ago when Brandy was younger that she lived in a little seaside town near Calais in France.  There was always something about the smell of salt in the air that she found comforting.  Wherever she was, whether it was walking down the avenue to the market, sitting at the cafe, or simply wandering the pier, admiring all the boats anchored in the harbor, whenever the wind would whip through, carrying with it that briney aroma, Brandy would always have to stop and close her eyes for a moment, letting the sea embrace her senses fully.  To her, that salty wind carried with it greetings from exotic lands and the promise of new adventures in places she still had yet to explore.

With all that Chicago has to offer, the one thing it has never brought Brandy was that same sense of infinite freedom that a gust of salty ocean air once did in that little sea side town.  "The lakefront is all fine and well," she says with a sigh,"It may have sand and waves, driftwood and fish galore, but its just not the same as standing at the edge of a seemingly endless body of water and catching a whiff of the world beyond the shore you're standing on.  Here, all you catch a whiff of is... well, Gary, Indiana."

Longing for something to remind her of the sea, Brandy was delighted to learn about the new brunch menu at The Savoy in Bucktown, an elegant spot that not only specializes in fresh seafood, but also in the finest varieties of absinthe the world has to offer.  "Sounds just like my little cafe in Calais!" she exclaimed, and quickly enlisted her good friend Bailey Blue to join her.

Inside the Savoy was a rather chic interior with an open kitchen at the front and a dark, mysterious bar at the back.  Faux-rust covered iron cages hung around the bare light fixtures, barring a not so subtle resemblance to lobster traps, and thick hemp ropes, woven together into a sort of curtain framed the entrance to the bar at the back, both of which hinted at the fresh seafood on offer.  Brandy and Bailey especially loved the art work that was scattered about the dining room, depicting an ancient looking grand dame with a vicious sneer in various vintage settings.  "They are wonderful pieces, aren't they?" Bailey asked as Brandy continued to stare at one painting in particular, her brows furrowed in concentration.  "Hm?  Oh yes, I suppose they are," Brandy mumbled, "I think I know this woman.  She looks just like the last president of my needle pointing group."

The ladies started off with a couple of cocktails: for Bailey the house Bloody Mary and for Brandy a Passion Fruit Mimosa.  Bailey's eyes grew wide when she was brought the massively intricate Bloody Mary, which was decked out with olives, tomatoes, bacon, herbs, and a freshly shucked oyster on the half shell.  "I might not need an entree after this!" she exclaimed.  Bailey found the drink to be plenty strong with a good kick of spice to offset the tanginess of it.  Though bold for sure, the concoction was still somehow light in texture.  Brandy's mimosa was fresh and clean with a really lovely softness to it and a vibrant ephervensense that is sometimes lost in a mimosa when there is an over balance of juice to champaign.

For her main course Bailey went with the House Cured Salmon Gravlax.  The beautifully presented plate came with piles of goodies to accompany the luscious fish: cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, slivers of red onions, crunchy cauliflower, fried capers, whiped herb cream cheese, and a freshly made rye waffle.  Bailey absolutely loved creating different bites by combining the various elements on the plate to form exciting mixes of textures and flavors.  The waffle had the incredibly sharp flavor of a rye bagel, but with a more airy lightness and none of the chew.  Bailey's favorite part was definitely the delicate salmon, which had the slightest sweetness, blending well with everything else on the plate.

Brandy chose the Crab Cake BLT.  The sandwich was an absolute behemoth, preventing any normal human being (that is, those of us who are incapable of unhinging our jaws) from eating it without the aid of a knife and fork.  The bread was almost English muffin like and had been coated in a tartar sauce like concoction that added a lovely creamy element to everything else.  The innards of the sandwich consisted of a thick slice of heirloom tomato, thin strips of crunchy bacon, a large seared crab cake, and a perfectly fried duck egg.  Brandy was very happy to see that the crab cake was truly the star of the dish (bacon has a tendency to ham it up and steal the spot light) with its fresh, herbaceous flavor and delightfully subtle crunch, originating from panko bread crumbs hidden within the cake itself.  The bright tomato really helped to cut the richness of the egg, bacon, and crab, as did the tangily dressed greens on the side.

To finish off their meal with something sweet, Brandy ordered another cocktail by the name of This Morning's Milk, an ever changing concoction, inspired by childhood's favorite bowls of cereal.  This particular day, the flavor was inspired by Reese's Pieces, a creamy mix of peanut butter and chocolate.  Brandy found the drink to have a very slight, adult minded sweetness to it, with the chocolate coming as more of a cocoa powder hit and the peanut butter manifesting in a nutty aftertaste.

At only $55 for two entrees and three cocktails, The Savoy proved to be not only of fine quality, but also fair pricing.  The service was quick and attentive and the dining room matched the food perfectly, in that it somehow seemed chic without seeming formal.  As they were leaving, Bailey noticed Brandy stopping just for a second and closing her eyes, a slow smile spreading onto her face.  "Something wrong?" Bailey asked.  "Nothing at all dear.  Just smelling the salt in the air," Brandy sighed.

*The writers of this blog were given the items mentioned in this blog post at no charge in exchange for an honest review.

The Short and Sweet Review

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