Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Glimpse Of The Good Life

As much as I would love to be, I am no "foodie," nor am I an expert on fine dining.  But I do know what's good; and there's something good going on in The Strip District... it's called Savoy and it truly it lives up to its slogan, "A Glimpse of The Good Life."

Last week, when I got a text message from my good friend (we'll call her SAA), inviting me to a private gathering at Savoy, I was thrilled. I had heard some buzz about the place (Ryan Mundy's face is on the billboards, which is hard to miss), and I hadn't done a "week-night out" with SAA in awhile. Heading downtown, I had no idea that Savoy would inspire The Steel Trap's first Pittsburgh restaurant recommendation. It's important to note that Savoy is about the actual experience (company, atmosphere, dining), so I am taking a holistic approach to this review by covering everything...

Savoy is three seamlessly conceptualized floors of impeccable taste. Normally I balk when a place is compared to Vegas, but I cannot help but observe how Savoy reflects the same decadent ambiance found in Aria. The main level features a bar and the dining room; the lower level is a wine cellar with private lockers and a lush fireplace room for the most intimate of meals (think proposals!); and the upper level is a lounge (with several flatscreens for distraction) that leads to a lovely deck. There is a space for every mood and need; and much like Aria, every detail from the wall coverings to the unique lighting fixtures to the textures meshes together to create the atmosphere in which you can experience "the good life."

After being warmly welcomed by the staff, SAA and I started the evening with wine (from an ideal list); but the bartender, Ty Kerstetter, decided that we needed something more "festive." He presented us with martini glasses filled with pink and blue cotton candy. My initial reaction was, "Dessert first?! Yes!" Then Ty (with a sly smile on his face) dashed my hopes and poured a liquid mixture on top. This was his version of a "Cotton Candy Cosmo," which was nothing short of fabulous. I expected it to be sweet, but instead experienced a tartly traditional "Cosmo." Bliss. 

Before dinner we met the guests of honor, Ving Rhames and Benny-D. And much love to them both (I saw Benny-D in concert later in the week and he was hype...), but Savoy still had center stage despite the celebrity presence.

Now, I have never been to an actual chef's tasting... but I soon realized that it's the perfect situation for me. Typically, I have a hard time ordering, and usually wait for whomever I am with to order before I decide. SAA and I were seated with two other lovely ladies (new friends!), and rather than order our own dinners, Executive Chef Kevin Watson "ordered" our dinners for us... it's addictive to say the least.

Here's the run down.... first we had the Barbecued Shrimp and White Cheddar Grits, and the Fried Calamari and Shrimp which was served with a sundried tomato horseradish sauce. Fried Chicken and Waffles followed the first course, accompanied with corn pudding and Pennsylvania maple syrup. Yes, this chicken and waffles concept lives up to its reputation. I was skeptical at first, but it's downright delicious (look out, IHOP). The next course was a trio of Entrees: Butter Poached Lobster with sea scallops in a fresh basil cream sauce served over pappardelle pasta; Tilapia Piccata with capers, shallots, fresh lemon juice, Italian parsley, pappardelle pasta and asparagus; and Angel Hair Pasta with feta cheese, tomatoes and chicken. After this meal, Chef Kevin could put anything in front of me, and I would eat it. He gained my faith with the shrimp and grits, but earned my trust with the lobster. We moved upstairs to the lounge for the dessert course which was a quad... with a homemade roasted pineapple sorbet as the highlight.

As the night tapered off, owner Chuck Sanders gave us a tour of Savoy, graciously answering all of my questions about the space and the interior design choices. Lastly, he walked us to our cars... which of course, for two gals alone on The Strip, was the night's final "Glimpse of the Good Life."

(four stars, 4/4)

Savoy Restaurant on Urbanspoon