Sunday, October 4, 2015

Savaan: Lamb soothes the lonely heart!

By Benjamin Ramos Rosado,

Separation is never easy for a close couple. When my partner, David (bearbear!), left for Chicago for 7 weeks, I was beside myself.  On one lonely Friday night, I decided to drown my sorrows at Savaan Mediterranean Restaurant.  I knew the decadent fig gelato and delicious lamb could never replace my bearbear’s hugs and cuddles, but at least it would get my mind off the sadness of being alone.

Okay, so I acknowledge that this is the most depressing and dramatic introduction to a restaurant review you’ve ever read.  But, you have to understand that at the time David had been gone for 3 weeks and I really missed him.  Normally on a Friday, we’d be having dinner together and planning a fun-filled weekend.  Unfortunately, I was staring down the barrel of, yet another solo weekend.  I needed some comfort food to get me out of the doldrums and Savaan was the perfect choice. 

Located in Harlem, Savaan is a large restaurant with ample seating and a fully stocked bar.  I would describe the décor as minimally elegant. The designer used warm earth tones for the color palate and hung crystal chandeliers throughout the space.  The clientele is made up of neighborhood locals, tourists, and uptown foodies enjoying the amazing fare. 

Within minutes of being seated, I couldn’t help but notice the numerous couples around me smiling, laughing, and taking full advantage of Savaan’s romantic atmosphere. It made me furiously bitter!  There’s nothing worse than happy people “flaunting” their happiness when you feel like crap.  Invoking the memory of Stephen King’s Carrie, I closed my eyes and tried to telekinetically make the chandeliers fall on them, but unfortunately, it didn’t work.

Disappointed with my lack of psychic power, I turned my attention away from vengeance and onto the appetizers section of the menu. Usually, I order the creamy and delicious Baba Ganoush (smoked eggplant with sesame paste and herbs) served with sliced pita bread, but that night, I wanted something new!  I wanted to challenge my taste buds and distract myself from all the annoying joy that surrounded me.  I decided to order the Ezme, a cold appetizer of finely chopped tomato, onion, green pepper, garlic, walnuts, pomegranate, chili peppers, and parsley drizzled with olive oil.

The Ezme was simplistic genius. The crunchy veggies were bursting with flavor; the olive oil, walnuts, and pomegranate imparted a wonderful earthiness and sweetness to the dish.  I loved how the chili peppers added an interesting kick of spice, which didn’t overpower the other flavors.  I enjoyed the Ezme’s texture as well, which was pasty, yet still crunchy.  I spread some of it onto my complimentary fresh baked Turkish bread and created a delicious Turkish Bruschetta. 

My server thought the Turkish Bruschetta idea was brilliant!  She said she’d mention it to the chef as a possible way to serve the Ezme. Savaan’s wait staff is wonderful; they’re always attentive and friendly. 

As I enjoyed my appetizer, I started to reminiscence about my first date with David.  We met online, chatted, and immediately set up a date for that upcoming Friday.  Unfortunately, after having had a difficult day at work, I texted David and canceled our date.  I wanted to go home, watch Scyfy channel, and forget all about my day.  We lost touch after the cancelation, but about a month later we reconnected and set up another time to meet.  Finally, we had our first date on Friday, April 29th, 2011 and thus our love story began.

To this day, David loves to throw that cancelation in my face.  In my defense, I always point out that had we met that first night, he would’ve met a tired, cantankerous, and frustrated Ben and not the charming, suave, and sexy Ben he fell in love with.  I guess things happen when they’re supposed to!  Remembering our first date brought me out of my funk and perked me up.  Whether he is with me or not, David has a way of bringing me happiness and peace. 

For dinner, I was torn between the Grilled Lamb Kebab and the Whole Grilled Bronzoni (European Sea bass served with arugula salad). Despite loving both dishes, in David’s honor, I decided to choose the Lamb Kebab.  Why? You may ask because David hates all seafood!

Yes, you read that correctly: David hates all seafood!  Whether he’s tasted it or not, he hates it all.  He also hates vegetables, fruits, and doesn’t like food to be too “flavorful.” He doesn’t like to eat meat off the bone and won’t eat anything if it “looks weird or crazy.” 

You’re probably wondering how I, foodie supreme, can be in a relationship with the pickiest eater on Earth.  Well despite his unending food issues, his compassion, patience, and sweetness more than makes up for our culinary differences.  You know I must love him if I’ve endured the various visits to Applebee’s, IHOP, and DQ Grill- he considers these places haute cuisine!

Savaan’s Grilled Lamb Kebab never fails to impress.  The lamb was soft, succulent, and well seasoned.  The grilled green peppers and tomatoes were smoky and sweet.  The rice pilaf was moist and flavorful.  The crunchy cabbage side salad, dressed with vinegar, gave the dish a refreshing acidic note that perfectly complemented the lamb. 

For dessert, I ordered Savaan’s decadent fig gelato with strawberries and blueberries.  The gelato was rich and creamy, with chunks of fig throughout.  I love this simple dessert’s complexity! The gelato, blueberries, and strawberries have a pronounced sweetness, which balanced the fig’s more subtle and earthy sweetness.  I thought about how David would’ve liked it and started to miss him again.

No, we’re not ending on a sad note!  A few weeks later, David returned home from Chicago! He had been performing in the out of town tryouts of Gloria and Emilio Estefan’s Broadway musical, “On Your Feet!”  As I write this, he is preparing to make his Broadway debut with the show on Thursday, November 5th!

Separation is never easy for a close couple, but as the saying goes, “Distance makes the heart grow fonder.”  Our time apart taught me to appreciate every minute together, even if it’s at Applebee’s!  Now, take your significant other to Savaan and taste for yourself! ¡Buen provecho!

2280 Frederick Douglass Blvd
New York, NY 10027


HOURS: Monday 4pm-11pm, Tuesday-Sunday 12pm-11pm

ATMOSPHERE:  Fun and casual.
SERVICE: Excellent
SOUND LEVEL: Conversational.
BEVERAGES: Tea, Soda, Coffee (Espresso and Cappuccino) and Hot Chocolate.
PRICE RANGE:  $11-$30

Savann Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato