Today, Frank Bruni bestows the expected deuce on Savoy, Peter Hoffman’s 20-year-old haute barnyard trailblazer:
It’s easy to forget about Mr. Hoffman and about Savoy, whose leafy, principled menu now seems less a breath of fresh cooking than the default setting of the urban bistro, where a chef contemplates ramps in May, butternut squash in November.
But if Savoy is no longer a trailblazer or paragon — and if, indeed, it makes a more modest impression than a latter-day temple of ethical eating like Blue Hill — it remains an attention-worthy restaurant, on account of how deeply pleasant an afternoon or evening here can be. Its low-key charms haven’t faded since its opening in 1990, and its adjustments over time have been wise ones.
Bruni seems to prefer the bustling downstairs bar to the refined dining room. Such a surprise! Perhaps if the restaurant were renamed Momofuku Savoy Bar, it would earn an extra star. His assessment of the two rooms is completely bass-ackwards:
Ask to sit downstairs. While both dining rooms have working fireplaces, the street-level one feels at once more intimate and livelier.
No, Frank, it’s the upstairs that is more intimate. There are a hundred restaurants that offer what Savoy offers downstairs. Upstairs is where it shines.