Savory Street International Café and Bakery opened in the Rosemary District less than two years ago and quickly established itself as a top choice of locals for breakfast, brunch and lunch. It introduced Savory @ Night just last month. Bright and casual during the day, the restaurant changes personality in the late afternoon with linen napery and different flatware, china, lighting and staff — still informal but sophisticated and comfortable for the evening meal.
Savory is the dream business of Claudia Johnson. She is from Mexico and an accountant with a Ph.D. in economics, a successful career in international business, an intense passion for food and exceptionally high standards. Recently, she has added a new partner: Jim Lampl, who was with Giant Eagle supermarkets in Pittsburgh for more than 25 years. Chef Gino Calleja, also from Mexico, was at New York restaurants, including Johnny’s Fish Grill in the World Financial Center and the Gate House in Battery Park, for 15 years before moving to Sarasota to work at Mattison’s City Grill.
Theirs is a dinner menu unlike any other in Sarasota. Johnson calls it “gourmet Mexican nouvelle cuisine.” It bears no resemblance to what most Americans know as Mexican food, which is mostly street food. Main dishes are classic, while side dishes and sauces make extensive and creative use of Latin ingredients.
Filete Adobado is prime filet mignon with a smoked poblano chili demi glace accompanied by chorizo mashed potatoes and squash cazuela (casserole). Ancho-seared salmon is crusted with the mild pepper and served with a tuna tamalito (little tamale), a salad of radish and chayote (a Latin relative of the cucumber) and a cilantro crèma.
Savory’s lobster ravioli is in a yellow tomato-achiote (a tropical fruit also known as annatto) cream. Mushroom risotto is made with shitake and oyster mushrooms and huitlacoche, the mushroom-like fungus that grows on corn. The familiar and the Latin coming together in a single dish is a consistent theme of the Savory @ Night menu.
The restaurant’s approach to dessert is a trio of trios. The idea is a little taste of everything for everyone at the table. “Grandma Favorites” is carrot cake, all about chocolate cake and tres leches (three milks) cake — all recipes from Johnson’s family. “Fun Tasties” is mango crème brulée, guava napoleon and hazelnut dacquoise. “Choco-Citrus” is opera torte, Key lime mousse and tiramisu.
Dinner is served from 5 to 10:30 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday, and reservations are accepted. From all appearances, Savory Street is going to be as successful at night as it is during the day.
Chorizo Mashed Potatoes
Yield: 4 servings
Start to finish: 30 minutes
2 pounds peeled potatoes and quartered
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon kosher salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 cup soft chorizo (Spanish sausage)
Place the chorizo into a small pan and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly until slightly browned. Remove from the heat and set aside. Simmer the potatoes until soft, place them together with the butter in the mixer at slow speed for about 30 seconds, scraping the sides with a rubber spatula to make sure that no big lumps are left on the bottom. Add the cream and mix for another minute until well combined. Add the cooked chorizo, salt and pepper and mix for few more seconds. Remove from the bowl and keep warm.
Savory Street International Café and Bakery
Address: 411 N. Orange Ave.
Hours: Breakfast/lunch 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Sunday; dinner 5 to 10:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday
Currently 1 Response
- This is a great new find for downtown Sarasota. What a great combination of very reasonably priced food, charming atmosphere, attentive service and hands-on owners. I loved it and will return.
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