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Note: Click here for a more recent review of Savoy.

savoy.jpgThese days, there is nothing newsworthy about a restaurant menu that’s built around seasonal ingredients sourced from local farmers—what New York’s Adam Platt calls an “haute barnyard.” But when Savoy opened in 1990, chef/owner Peter Hoffman didn’t have a lot of company. Savoy has remained a New York favorite, offering a refined and romantic dining experience.

When you arrive at Savoy, you find yourself initially on the bustling ground floor, which serves small plates and sandwiches, and doesn’t accept reservations. If you’re there to visit the fine-dining restaurant, the hostess leads you upstairs, where the setting is far more serene, with a wood-burning fireplace, warm lighting, and candles on every table.

My friend and I were attracted to the identical menu choices. To start, we had the Grilled Sausage with mustard greens and lentil salad ($10). I thought it was terrific, although my friend was concerned to see pink on the inside of the sausage. (As Frank Bruni has noted, many restaurants are now serving pork rare, but not all diners have gotten used to it.)

Salt Crust Baked Duck ($28) has been one of Savoy’s signature dishes for many years. The server explained that the salt is used during cooking to keep the moisture in, but it is scraped off before serving, so the duck doesn’t taste all that salty. It is an excellent preparation. I especially appreciated that the duck breast was sliced thick, and there was a visible layer of fat on the edges. The accompanying plum dumplings were an unexpected treat, but black kale was rubbery.

The wine list is not long, and features mostly smaller vinyards. We landed on a very fine grenache for $42. Service was very good, aside from one pet peeve that seems to crop up more often these days: no butter knife.

Many chefs with this kind of success would be looking to branch out—launching a second restaurant, then a third. Peter Hoffman just keeps his eye on the ball at Savoy, which continues its charming ways in a renovated 1830s Federal style townhouse in SoHo. For my money, Savoy a more relaxed and romantic atmosphere than Blue Hill, while offering a very similar style of dining that is arguably just as good, or better. By all means give it a try.

Savoy (70 Prince Street at Crosby Street, SoHo)

Food: **
Service: **
Ambiance: **½
Overall: **

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