Monday, September 13, 2010

Savory: Paul Shoemaker's work in progress

When I heard that former Bastide chef Paul Shoemaker was opening up a new restaurant, I was interested. When I heard it was going to be named Savory, I became very interested. Last weekend, a friend and I drove out to Malibu (20 miles on the Pacific Coast Highway) to check out the month-old restaurant.

We got there a few minutes early and understandably our table wasn't ready, so we grabbed seats at the bar and waited. We waited and waited more than half an hour past our reservation time. The hostess offered us some food and/or drink and assured us our table would be ready soon, which it was several minutes later. My companion chose the olives, which she enjoyed very much; the plating was particularly attractive. Another staff member said that they still haven't worked out the timing as it is not uncommon to wait significantly past reservation times, especially on weekends.

We began our meal with the pizza, described on the menu as pizza, burrata, tapenade, tomato. ($15). The pizza bottom was charred and the top was somewhat undercooked. When we picked up a slice it was quite limp, so much so that the waiter commented that it was not supposed to be like that. He offered to have the kitchen make us another one and we accepted.

The second version of the pizza (pictured above), which arrived concurrently with the appetizers, was charred on the bottom but this time was not limp and was able to hold the toppings. Significantly better but probably not a dish I'd rush to order again, although the burrata was of a superior quality.

We shared the tomato soup and the goat cheese ravioli with tomatoes as our appetizers. The tomato soup (above) was served in a large bowl, with generous servings of a delicious liquid and crunchy crostini floating on top. The ravioli (below) was one large raviolo, with fresh halved cherry tomatos of several colors and chanterelle mushrooms on top. This was also a successful dish and had nice clean flavors. I prefer several smaller ravioli to one large one, but that is personal preference, although they should change the menu to indicate raviolo as ravioli is plural. This kitchen certainly has a winning way with tomatoes.

For our entrees, we shared the beef and the halibut and added a side of beets. The beef is described as beef, rosa bianca eggplant, smoked salt. It is a skirt steak served sliced in a sweet sauce on a rectangular plate with the eggplant. The plating of this dish was less attractive as it looked sloppy but the beef was cooked medium rare as we had requested. The sauce made this dish too sweet for my taste and was not a favorite. However, the halibut was served on a bed of lentils and was well prepared. The top layer was nicely seasoned, the fish had good flavor and the texture was firm. A recommended dish.

The beets were good but we were getting quite full so didn't do them justice.

A particular highlight is the draft beer selection, which includes my favorite beer Tripel Karmeleit, from Belgium, which is rare to see on tap. Beers are priced at $8. The wine by the glass selection is small but well curated and is priced from $9 - $12. The bottled beer selection includes several large format (750 ml) options including St. Bernardus ABT 12 for $26.

Overall there were some hits and misses but not a strong enough ratio of successes for me to recommend the drive out to Malibu at this time. Both the service and the food could use some refining. At this point it is a spot for locals, of which there are many looking for a good place to eat. If you grade on the Malibu curve, then Savory gets high marks, but Shoemaker's reputation indicated that he had higher ambitions. I hope he achieves them.

1 comment:

  1. In speaking with Paul Shoemaker prior to his restaurant's opening, Savory sounded like a sure bet, and probably even a destination restaurant. However, after reading your report, I'll probably wait until they figure out the growing pains. Such a long wait after such a long drive would be frustrating, but not as frustrating as limp pizza. At least the second pie was to your satisfaction, though it shouldn't take two tries to get a pizza right.