Hotel Hanford's Savoy has a look to love
It takes a stroll through the lovely lobby of the boutique Hotel Hanford in Costa Mesa to reach the luxurious yet unpretentious Savoy restaurant.
Just across the 405 from South Coast Plaza on Bristol, the restaurant offers similar refinement but without the crowds. Parking is ample and easy.
A weekday lunch felt almost like ordering room service. We had the restaurant to ourselves. Even the lobby was deserted.
Before looking at the menu, we admired our surroundings. A chic metallic theme – from textured placemats to a decorated, slabbed wall – looks modern without seeming minimalist. The muted sheen creates a warm sophistication.
Savoy gets even the smallest details right. The bases of water goblets are covered in a white, doily-like paper to prevent condensation. The service is pleasant and attentive. Some days feature an acoustic guitar performance.
But the food doesn't wow as consistently as the presentation.
Savoy serves a brunch menu from 6 a.m. until 3 p.m., with choices ranging from lemon ricotta pancakes to a burger with chimichurri crème fraiche.
We went with breakfast and lunch. The huevos rancheros ($11) were a solid choice with two eggs, black refried beans, rice and toppings of avocado, salsa and cheddar and cojita cheeses.
I opted for sunny-side up and quickly received a beautifully plated dish covered in a mild yet flavorful house-made green salsa. Spears of long tortilla chips reached out of the soil of beans like corn stalks yearning for the sun. The interplay of salty cojita with ripe avocado and runny egg yolk made for a nice mix of flavor.
Outstanding and ordinary shared a platter with the sandwich and soup combination ($9). The turkey sandwich, served with standard deli meat on toasted French bread, came with a pile of fresh lettuce. When ordering, my friend asked for Dijon mustard instead of mayonnaise, but instead the bread was overly saturated with yellow mustard. My friend also wished she'd thought to ask for (or been offered) a healthier bread choice.
But the accompanying cup of asparagus soup redeemed the meal. It was as bright as peas and stayed true to flavor. It was garnished with croutons and a curled heap of Monterey Jack shavings.
Back on a Saturday night, one other couple sat at a table facing a flat-screen TV showing a Lakers playoff game. Even my basketball fan date remarked that the broadcast diminished some of the class of the place. By 9 p.m. or so, a small group camped out at the bar. Later, loud club music flooded the space, apparently from a private party going on.
We started with Mediterranean nosh ($9), a square platter attractively arranged with segments of spiced hummus, lentil puree, kalamata and green olives and dense balls of buffalo mozzarella, tinted with balsamic. The wedges of flat bread were crunchy but a bit dry.
The hummus, despite being billed as spiced, tasted fairly bland. The lentils were earthy but somewhat astringent. The dish worked fine when mixed with bites of salty olive and flavorful cheese.
We ordered the butternut squash ravioli ($19) and the chicken raclette ($28). The ravioli was covered in an almost translucent sauce. The marcona almonds added to the savory enjoyment of the robust orange puree.
The raclette, described as free-range chicken breast, came with bones, but tasted moist and well seasoned. Along with fingerling potatoes, a mix of vegetables and a Béarnaise sauce, there was the so-called "fruit lab" of orange-infused apricot. The side resembled dried fruit and tasted as sweet, but it was also warm and moist. The dish reminded me of a Thanksgiving meal where berries mingle with potatoes and poultry.
For dessert, we tried the house-made artisan "Kit Kat" ($8) and the trio of sorbet ($6).
I've always liked Kit Kat bars, and I was rather enamored of this crunchy, cold and compact version. It even looked like the real thing, save for toppings of caramel and chocolate instead of a wrapper.
Even if you never check in to the Hotel Hanford, Savoy with its lovely atmosphere is worth checking out.
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