Living in Allentown, over the summer I noticed the construction and renovation going on inside (and outside) the former Claiborne Liquors. It appeared that the renovated building was waiting for a tenant to come along and I eventually stopped paying attention. Then out of nowhere, I was reading a Buffalo Rising article about the opening of Savoy.
The owners have done a fantastic job of remodeling the place; the bar, lighting and general design are all very impressive. The atmosphere feels like an upscale yet comfortable place you’d want to hang out and have a couple drinks and snacks, which is exactly what the owners seem to want. It’s not a very large restaurant, the bar is quite long but there are only about 25 seats for people who are dining in. You’ll see some familiar faces behind the bar and there is a cocktail menu hopefully coming (utilizing freshly squeezed juices, sound familiar?). They have just a single TV and aren’t afraid to play sporting events.
- Restaurant Type: Modern Bar/Restaurant
- Cuisine: Sandwiches, Small Plates
- Location: Allentown
- Prices: Items $6-16
I visited twice, once with friends to have a drink and another with Alli to have dinner. When I visited to have a couple drinks, the restaurant and bar had only been open for a week. It was a little hectic, they weren’t really offering cocktails but we were all impressed with the renovation of the building. My friend even made a comment that the place smelled new, like the plastic had just been unwrapped from everything. Savoy offers a couple nice craft beers (all bottles), some Belgian beers (with proper glasses) and Flying Bison….but most of the selection includes your typical Coors/Blue selection. As I said before, hopefully the cocktails are coming soon….
Alli and I arrived for dinner on a Saturday night. The restaurant had a good crowd but there was still seating available. We opted to sit at the bar to watch the Sabres game and order a couple of plates to share; Alli had been in the mood for a good cheese and meat plate and I wanted to see what their panini’s were like. I ordered a nice Duvel and Alli had the bartender make something sweet (I think vodka, lime juice, syrup), which she enjoyed.
Both Alli and I love the idea of sitting at a swanky bar, sipping on cocktails and munching on some delicious cheese and cured meat. We really really hoped that Savoy would fit that description. Sadly, it fell short. The meat and cheese plates had their ups and downs….mostly downs. The cheese plate had a goat cheese, a lightly-fried pastry wrapped brie and another mild cheese. Not exactly the most exciting combination, and the only thing we really enjoyed was the goat cheese. The rest was, for the lack of a better word, blah. The meat plate wasn’t good at all. The meats looked and tasted like they had been sliced from Tops down the street. The prosciutto was sliced much too thick and was almost difficult to eat, the salami was really salty and the spicy pepperoni was good, but just, well, pepperoni. In comparison to the fantastic meat and cheese shop down the street, Alli and I were really bummed by what we were served. With the atmosphere that Savoy is trying to create, I really hope they either starts better sourcing their meats and cheese and/or tries to make some cured meats in house. Overall, if you are fans of good cheese and cured meat, do not waste your money on either plate, you will be disappointed.
The Tunatini was definitely the best thing we ate that night. The combination of sesame soy sauce, raw tuna and crispy wontons is always good. The presentation in a martini glass is a little cheesy, but it was the only dish of the night that I’d probably order it again. That said, it wasn’t anything I would go out of my way for. The panini with prosciutto had a similar issue as the meat plate; the meat itself was way too thick and a little cold. Everything else about the panini, however, was OK; the bread seemed fresh and was toasted just the right amount, the fig jam wasn’t too overwhelming and the Gorgonzola rounded out the flavor.
The restaurant is having their grand opening today and hopefully they will grow and improve over the months to come. The space they’ve built is gorgeous and with Sample leaving Allentown in a couple weeks, they can offer a more upscale atmosphere to a certain type of drinking crowd. I know the idea of the bar is to have a speakeasy theme, but looking at bottles of Crown Royal and flavored vodka behind the bar isn’t that reassuring. In my opinion, you can’t go ‘halfway’ when it comes to offering really good cocktails. If they want to be a speakeasy, they really need to follow in Vera’s footsteps and go all out with their cocktails. Until that happens and/or they improve their food, I don’t know if I will be back.