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A2P Foodist: Restaurant Review—Sava’s

Restaurant Review:  *** (good, reliable)—Ratings range from zero to five stars and reflect the reviewer’s reaction to food, with ambiance, service and price taken into consideration, as well.

Sava’s
216 South State Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Hours: 8 a.m.-midnight daily
Ph: 734-623-2233

Reservations suggested for Sunday brunch.

Trying to find the door to a restaurant and almost walking into a research lab is something I have never done before, except at Sava’s. Once you get inside, the first thing you notice is a cramped waiting area with a few benches with more room for the maitre d’ than for customers waiting on a cold Sunday morning, most on their feet, for more than 30 minutes if you forget to make a reservation at least one week in advance. If you were informed enough to make a reservation, you are seated in the middle of what seems like a busy road where customers and wait staff alike bustle up and down the narrow restaurant to reach the extremely popular Sunday breakfast buffet. The décor of the restaurant is 50 shades of gray with wood accents. The noise, when the restaurant is full, is ear-splitting, and this makes conversations difficult even with the people sitting next to you.

The Sunday buffet costs $16 per person, plus drinks, tip and taxes, is actually what it’s talked up to be. There is a full table of hot prepared foods such as pies, potato dishes, corned beef hash, corned beef (other guests commented that the corned beef was a little too salty) and a plethora of egg dishes, including poached eggs. Each of the dishes on the buffet was hot when it was supposed to be hot; cold when it was supposed to be cold, and all the house made pastries—excluding the bread and bagels— were delicious. Pastries, in fact, were uniformly the perfect combination of “ooie” and “gooie.” The homemade poptarts are flaky-amazing, and the fruit-filled poptarts come highly recommended from a fellow brunch diner.

After that brunch I was anxious to return. I went for lunch. The restaurant, which had been bustling and full on the weekend when we were last there, was empty and quite quiet except for staff members who were lurking around and chatting among themselves.

The restaurant has an exposed ceiling, wood floors and a second floor indoor balcony area that, while charming, amplifies the noisy first floor. When I visted for lunch, Sava’s was a winter wonderland and decorated with oversized Christmas ornaments covered in glitter and an immense Christmas tree also covered in glitter and fake snow. My fellow diner and I sat down at a high-backed booth with padded seats and a wooden table. The server came promptly over and took our drink orders—a Coke for me, and a sparkling water for my guest. Usually it’s a bad sign when you server starts your meal by bringing tonic water (used in the making of mixed drinks) instead of the sparkling a.k.a. soda water requested, but the server apologized quickly, when found, and brought the correct drink.

We ordered an appetizer at the same time as our food, and fell into a deep discussion about, of all things, Punnett squares. The conversation was pleasantly interrupted when our appetizer came (spinach and artichoke dip). We tried to dig right in but found, when an entire castle keep of pita chips is stacked around the dip, it can make it slightly difficult to find the food. When we did make it in, we found that perhaps the pita chips, which themselves where very crisp, warm and tasty, were placed in the castle like formation to stop you from drowning in the copious amounts of oil in the roux. The dip was a disappointing mixture populated with huge chunks of tinny canned artichokes and bits of wilted spinach. Once we dismantled the pita chips, found a small amount of the roux devoid of artichoke chunks and were able to taste the flavors themselves, they were actually quite good.

Our entrees came as soon after we were finished with the spinach and artichoke dip. Our main courses consisted of a steak sandwich with regular fries that I had selected and a burger with sweet potato fries for my companion. The fries, which come in small portions and are a la carté, make a pricey lunch pricier—$3 for regular fries and $4 for sweet potato. Both the regular and sweet potato fries were served hot and perfectly crispy. While sandwiches themselves were good, the steak in my flank steak sandwich ($10) was bland, and the meat in my companion’s burger was also in need of a bit of salt and pepper. In my steak sandwich the horseradish sauce (which appeared to be grated horseradish mixed in with a small amount of mayonnaise) overpowered the meat. When combined with the wilted arugula and balsamic braised onions there was simply too much going on—as if the sauce would cover for the meat.

The burger ($7) on the other hand was cooked perfectly medium well, had very fresh vegetables and a snappy sauce made with mayonnaise and hot sauce—the same sauce served with the sweet potato fries.

We concluded our meal with dessert even though a dessert menu was as hard to find as the door to the restaurant (we had to locate our server and request one). We tried the peanut butter cheesecake, cooked by Sava’s in-house pastry chef. The cheesecake was silky smooth and extremely chocolaty. While it was called peanut butter cheesecake, the peanut butter flavor was lost in the layers of chocolate. I’m not complaining; I love chocolate. If you’re looking for the taste of peanut butter, you’ll get it from the crumbled peanut butter cups that surround the square of cheesecake. The peanut butter cheesecake had a layer of peanut butter cheesecake sandwiched between two layers of chocolate cheesecake. All of this was perched on a double chocolate Oreo crumb crust. Alas, the crust was slightly soggy, but you won’t notice.

Yelpers, collectively, give Sava’s 3.5 stars. On Yelp.com, multiple reviewers praised the sweet potato fries, and panned the noise levels. While our service was good both times, more than a few Yelp.com reviewers commented on what they considered spotty service at Sava’s. All in all the food, ambiance, service were, for the most part pleasant, but not worth the $52 some dollars we paid for lunch, (including drinks and tip). Sava’s is a great restaurant for Ann Arbor, but I wouldn’t rush there. If you do decide to find your way to Sava’s, put it on your calendar for brunch with friends. Just remember to go the Sunday after payday. 

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Short URL: http://www.a2politico.com/?p=14727

17 Comments for “A2P Foodist: Restaurant Review—Sava’s”

  1. Vendors should be aware of this establishment, C.O.D all orders Do Not accept a check. The story about the safe is true, there was a hefty insurance claim paid out also.

  2. I’m glad that A2politco is doing a real report on this restaurant, its no secret that a lot of Annarbor.com staff eat and drink at Sava for free. I am a former customer of the Cafe, I am amazed that this place is able to pass health inspections. I have seen so many flys in this place, they should really close the deck off. The food quality is not good for what you pay for. Prices are high and I been told management will add things to your order to up the bill. Bottom line Sava restaurant is not a good place to dine.

  3. I would have to agree with DShand I also have witnessed Sava in a rage. Don’t catch her in a bad mood, her attitude towards her staff is disgusting.

  4. As a raw foodist in the making (maybe, we’ll see), I’m distressed that A2 has nothing close to Cafe Gratitude (Berkeley, CA), and others.

  5. World class dining? Remember what happened to Escoffier? No? Ann Arbor has many good restaurants. If people want haute cuisine, they can take a road trip to Chicago. Or go to the Lark? As long as the Earle, Cafe Zola, Earthen Jar and $20 sandwiches at Zingerman’s stay in business, who can complain about the food in Ann Arbor? It’s a college town.

  6. In my opinion, Sava’s is a welcome non-chain restaurant addition to the State Street area. Is it 5 star cuisine? No. Is it fast food? No. It’s something in between. I like the space – though it is really noisy when the restaurant is crowded. I go for happy hour maybe once a month, and the atmosphere is just what you’d expect. I think this review was fair and as Dave D. said it’s nice to see ‘real’ reviews of local restaurants.

    • Brian you put your finger right on it! Sava’s is ‘something in between.’ So is SEva for that matter and the Red Hawk Grill. All three are solid downtown citizens and a welcome change from fast food disguised as ethnic. Who out there would say that Ann Arbor has world class restaurants? I have heard enough of my friends from the coasts complain that the city doesn’t have high caliber dining. It should. Maybe Mani is an exception? Zingerman’s is hype and $20 sandwiches. I stopped eating there years ago. If A2Politico is going to keep up with these reviews and I hope you do it will be a welcome change from the Observer and AnnArbor.com. I’m sure the writers are told to keep it nice and upbeat.

      • @Dave D. I don’t know what the writers at those places are told, except that I had one AA.com food writer contact me long ago to ask for work. Great question about whether Ann Arbor has world class dining. Do we? I’d love to hear what other people think.

  7. A2P Notes: This comment was edited. Read the commenting guidelines here (http://www.a2politico.com/about-a2politico/comment-policy/)

    I heard the same rumor about the safe.

    • @Sara, the safe, huh? Hmm….As for the screaming, you ever worked in food service? It’s a high stress environment. Then again, so was working for former City Administrator Roger Fraser, or so I’ve been told by those whom he regularly bullied. Maybe we can work up a relaity TV show: Bosses Who Scream and the Employees Who Roll Their Eyes At Them.

      Thanks for stopping by, and if you have a lead on that 24K from the safe, email me. We could use a little holiday cash. ;-)

  8. Sounds like “Mike” is in a drunken rage? LOL. Great review of Sava’s. It’s about time we had restaurant reviews of local joints that tell it like it is. The Yelp reviews linked to are pretty similar. I’ve eaten there once, and I would agree about the sweet potato fries. Excellent. My service was pretty good, but I totally agree that the prices are too high for the quality of the food. We dropped $150 on a meal for four, without booze.

  9. Your blog is garbage!!!

    • @Mike, thanks for the comment. Exclamation points !!!!! are always appreciated, as are differing opinions. The Columbia Journalism Review and Bridge Magazine see one man’s garbage as a news site that serves up excellent reporting and accountability journalism that serves our community well. Sanitation engineers fond of investigative journalism and good writing can follow A2P’s “garbage” on Twitter (http://www.Twitter.com/A2Politico) and Facebook (http://www.Facebook.com/A2Politico).

  10. U would be jelous of Sava relationship with the Mayor!!! You lost get over it!!!!!

    • @Mike, Sava’a relationship with the Mayor? Does Kathryn Goodson (John’s wife) know? :-) Believe me, I’m over it. It was a great experience and I met so many nice folks who live in Ann Arbor and care deeply about local politics. Love the exclamation points!!!!!!!!! Keep on readin’ A2P, and thanks for the comment.

  11. A2P Notes: This comment was edited. Read the commenting guidelines here (http://www.a2politico.com/about-a2politico/comment-policy/)

    I have delt with Sava…she is not a very nice person……AnnArbor.com did not report a safe stolen with 24k stolen out of the Sava resturant earlier this year….the fish tacos are not the only thing fishy at this establishment!

    • @D. Shand, A2P has never heard of anyone in Ann Arbor being in a drunken rage except, maybe, the president of EMU and a certain County Commish. Seriously, though, interesting about the 24K that went missing from the safe and the pages of AA.com, or so YOU say. Maybe a FOIA to the AAPD is in order. Thanks for stopping by.

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