European country cuisine with a ‘Savory’ Calif. twist

Savory has long been one of my favorite area restaurants so I was quite excited when the opportunity to revisit them with “Lick the Plate” came about. When they arrived on the North County dining scene several years ago, their self-described European country dishes with a fresh California twist caught the attention of area foodies and they opened to accolades and full houses. It’s still as popular as ever and holds its own as the spot in North County to experience a warm yet stylish atmosphere with a menu that features casual, yet sophisticated, dishes. I like that mix.
Savory divides its menu into three sections: taste, slow cooked and taste more. All dishes have a friendly wine number assigned that directs you to a pairing on the wine list. A nice touch that leaves the pairing to the experts.
So let’s start with the amuse bouche sent out from the kitchen. A nice chunk of monkfish with avocado, corn and blood orange to get things started. Wow, a perfect pairing of flavors and textures. Chef Pascal Vignau and Chef de Cuisine Chris Hatfield know how to impress.
From the taste menu we went with the charcuterie plate that came with homemade mustard and a classic celery root remoulade. Remoulade was invented in France and is a popular condiment in many countries. It is most often aioli- or mayonnaise-based and can be flavored with curry and sometimes contains chopped pickles. We also had the sea scallop with artichoke, edamame and a pepe pasta risotto. This was so good I had to sneak in a quick lick of the plate. Next up we tasted the herb de provence crusted blue fin tuna, cooked rare that was one of the most beautiful plates of fish I’ve encountered. This tuna literally melted in your mouth — good stuff. Prices in the tastes section range from $7 to $16.
From the slow cooked section came one of my favorites, the duck leg confit with sausage, braised lentil, button mushrooms and bacon. This was served in a rustic copper pan and dished on to my plate. I loved the presentation and everything worked so well together in this dish with the lentils providing a tasty alternative to the traditional beans found in this cassoulet like dish.
Our selection from the tasting more section was the Alaskan halibut served with potato, shallot, green beans and black olive vinaigrette. Once again we were sharing each others meals, which created a fantastic surf and turf Savory style. Prices in the both slow cooked and taste more ranged from $17 to $28 — very reasonable given the quality of the food and ingredients.
As I mentioned its fun to let the house pick the wines with their friendly wine number pairings yet there is an extensive, moderately priced list should you choose to tap your own wine expertise.
By the time dessert came around, we were closing in on food coma state so we shared a fruit crisp that was delicious paired with a late harvest chardonnay and a 20-year-old tawny port. Desserts change frequently so be sure to ask your server.
Savory has not lost sight of the fact that times are tough and has responded with some really great values. Tuesdays are half price bottle of wine night.
There are daily sunset suppers from 5 to 6 p.m. with a three-course dinner priced at $29 and $39 with wine pairings. A daily happy hour from 5 to 6 p.m. features 30 percent off all food in the bar and lounge areas only.
They also offer a Saturday tea from 1 to 2:30 p.m. where you can enjoy a selection of delicious finger sandwiches, pastries, and freshly baked sultana scones served with rose petal jam and lemon curd at $21 per person.
A full Sunday brunch is also happening that is worth checking out. I’ve also had many a lunch at Savory and found that menu to be just as appealing.
I would suggest checking out the www.savorycasualfare.com for updates to the menu and specific promotions.
Savory is open Tuesday through Sunday and is located at 267 N. El Camino Real (Suites A & B) in Encinitas. Reservations are suggested at (760) 634-5556.

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