August 3, 2012
- Food: Fresh, Delicious seafood
- Decor: Rustic Nautical, not pretentious
- Service: Incredibly helpful
- Cost: $$$
- Wine / Cocktails: Inventive Absinthe Program
As a native of this great midwestern city, I understand the flaws that go with our landlocked location. It's near impossible to get fresh, just-out-of-the-water, seafood that doesn't come out of the Great Lakes. That is, until now.
The Savoy is a sultry spot in the heart of Wicker Park, an already bustling restaurant scene, but on Wednesday night, it was already pretty full up with foodies looking for something new.
Four of us sat down for some cocktails and ordered a little bit at a time, which I recommend doing. The portions are just right for one person, but if you aim to share, order it all.
The drinks we ordered throughout dinner included the Sweet (sweet) Jane, Wicker Wings, 21st Century, Daisy Chain, Death Stamp, Savoy Truffle, and a sample of the Isastegi Cider. After tasting every single one, all of which contain absinthe, I'd highly recommend Wicker Wings the most. The Sweet (sweet) Jane was definitely the most interesting, and if you're adventurous, go for it. It has the most remarkable smoky flavor at the very end that will keep you sipping.
We started off with a few items from the raw bar: the black grouper ceviche, tuna tartar, and geoduck clam. The clam was highly recommended to me by Chef Brian Greene as the most interesting item on the menu, and he was right. The plum added texture and sweetness to the rich clam offset by pickled ginger. The ceviche was definitely a favorite. It was served with crispy, wonton triangle chips and delicately plated in a margarita glass. The avocado mixed in made it a perfect summer dish. The tuna tartar had a yuzu emulsion nested on top (see photo), which gave it a fresh twist and a beautiful look.
After much deliberation, we finally settled on the Red Curry Mussels to follow up the raw bar choices. These are by far the best mussels I've ever had, and I'll come back solely for these the next time I'm in town. The mixture of the coconut, lemon grass and red curry combined to make a rich sauce that paired so perfectly with the jumbo-sized mussels that we scooped up the remaining sauce with shells until it was completely gone. I half-joked that I could drink it through a straw.
For our main courses, we ordered the pan seared halibut and the pork belly confit and scallops, which we were praised for choosing by a passing employee. This was by far the most difficult time I've had ordering because of the multitude of amazing dishes to choose from. I seriously can't wait to go back and try everything else.
The halibut came complete served over a bed of sauteed oyster mushrooms (so incredibly rich and full of texture), sugar snap peas, grape tomatoes (fresh from the market), and rich cream corn. The real star, though, was the pork belly confit and seared scallops. They came served with door county cherry mojo (reminiscent of thanksgiving dinner), crispy sunchoke and date gastrique. However, had the pork belly and scallops been served completely alone, I would have been just as delighted. The meat was incredibly rich and the scallops cooked to juicy perfection with a contrasting char-crust.
We opted to share everything once we saw the desserts exiting the open kitchen, so we ended things with Grandma's Peanut Butter Pie (to die for) and a pot of chocolate cream. I could have done without the chocolate cream and had multiples of the peanut butter pie. The oreo crust was the perfect proportion and the pie filling had an airy lightness to it. I'd love to return for some vanilla bourbon homemade ice cream or mango mezcal sorbet.
Pork Belly Confit and Seared Scallops, Geoduck Clam, Black Grouper Ceviche, Red Curry Mussels, Peanut Butter Pie