Savoy has always held a special place in my bosom; the true-blue fireplace, the warm lighting and blond wood glow, the U-shaped bar with its slate slab of Saxelby cheeses and terrifying bar stools that invite you to lean back and crack your head open.
Snug and low-key, Peter Hoffman's Savoy was far, far ahead of Greenmarket and localvore fetishism, and she (yep, I made the restaurant a she) carries herself as lady always-in-the-know should--with understated elegance, confidence, and natural charm.
On this sodden Sunday, Savoy never looked more inviting. The Man and I found ourselves just in time for Happy Hour, wherein certain cocktails are $8, special wines $6, and an array of bar snacks are $4-10, like deviled eggs with sumac and chili-lime chicharrónes.
Our favorite tipples were the Pimm's Pear ($8, spiced pear infusion, lemon, Pimm's #1, poire william) and the Jack Rose ($12, pomegranate, applejack, lemon); fruity without being cloying, bracing and sunny. If you're feeling strong, they have a mighty, mighty Harvest Manhattan ($12), a classic whiskey warmer scented with pumpkin liqueur and maple.
I'd remembered an item in the NYT mentioning that this year's Maine shrimp harvest was particularly bountiful, and barely smothered a squeal when I saw said shrimp on the Bar Snacks menu.
These critters are not the cocktail super-size-me variety; they're wee, super-seasonal, sweet, and pink even before cooking. I've had them mounded nigiri-style in sushi bars before, but never cooked.
I may or may not have made touchdown arms when the shrimp arrived ($8, with a creamy-not-pushy heirloom citrus tartar):
HEADS ON! YEAAAAH! It's goooood!
(Click the piccie for enlarged, full-power stare-back shrimp effect.)
Deep-fried with shells and noggins intact may be strange to newbies, but it's hands-down my favorite kind of fried shrimp (think salt-pepper shrimp in Cantonese restaurants). The shells become the oceanic equivalent of potato chips, sealing in the briny brilliance of the sweet shrimp.
Some may be inclined to peel these babies, discard the heads, or suck said heads and consider the job done. Not me (or The Man, for that matter); we gobbled them down from tip to tail, and enjoyed every tomalley-rich, crispy sea-candy bit.
Like all good things, Maine shrimp are fleeting, so cross your fingers and go on down to Savoy for a welcome reminder that winter isn't all turnips and pigs feet.