Savor, fancy and definitely not traditional Thai on [St. Clair Ave. West], [Toronto]

We tried Savor last night. The cocktails are lots of fun and the food is intricate, richly flavoured (though it pulls punches with heat), and eye-catching. We went with the chef’s tasting menu, but decided to add the Massamun curry with braised short ribs as an extra main.

We tried 3 cocktails:

  • Pearly Essence - cilantro & shallot-infused mezcal, Cointreau, lime juice, syrup, mint, Thai chili, ground roasted sticky rice - not really reminiscent of the laab salad it was based on, but plenty interesting.

  • Ravishing Ruby - Asian pear-infused tequila, Triple Sec, lime juice, ube syrup - fantastic mix of pear and a slightly nutty flavour from the ube, served dramatically on a bed of dry ice.

  • Coral Breeze - guava and rosemary-infused wine, plum wine, rosemary syrup, soda, star fruit - a guava-forward spritz with nice herbal notes from the rosemary.

We started with “Sai Grog Pla Nam”: sweet chilied Thai sausage, with toasted rice and seabass crumble, betel leaves, pickled garlic, lotus stems.

It was closely followed by “Jang Lon Goong”: lemongrass grilled shrimp mousseline, with cranberry-pepper sauce, hazelnut praline, cilantro-kaffir lime gel.

The salad course featured fresh pan-seared scallops and caviar, chunks of sweet pomelo and red grapefruit, arugula, baby gem, lettuce, and a mint-lemongrass-roasted chilli dressing inside a pani puri.


The “pre-main course” was “Kao Kai Jiew Pu”: rice with crab-fried egg (a fried rice batter ball with a chunk of fresh crab on top), crispy fried egg, puffed black riceberry rice, and Sriracha ice cream.

For the main course, you can choose one of three. We each chose a different one so we could taste each and then ordered an extra Massamun curry (not on the tasting menu), to round out our sampling.

“Gang Ped Ped Yang” featured five-spice duck breast (roasted rare), with red curry (complex, but no kick), spiced apple purée, and roasted star fruit, plum, and physalis.

“Kao Soy Goong Mung Gorn” had a pan-grilled lobster tail, served with black tortellini stuffed with ricotta and pickled mustard green, rice noodle crackers, and a yellow curry broth poured over (also no heat).

The Massamun curry included tender braised short rib, caramelized onion, sweet potato, Thai peanuts, in a puréed young-coconut-house-Massamun curry (lots of cardamom), with steamed jasmine rice, and cucumber salad.

The “pre-dessert” was a jasmine purple rice sorbet with lime and a bowl of jasmine rice in syrup.

For dessert there were two choices, so we each ordered one.

“Kao Mao Tod” was fried glutinous-rice-coated lady finger bananas, toasted sesame seeds, house-made young coconut sorbet, dark chocolate sauce, and preserved sour cherries.

Equally interesting was the winter squash crème brûlée, taro gnocchi, pumpkin cake, pumpkin seed tuile, warm coconut milk foam, and a blob of sweetened taro paste.

They finish you off with a caramelized coconut and young coconut truffle.

The chef’s tasting menu is just about to change, so there will be new dishes to sample very shortly.

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I think I would’ve been disappointed by the lack of heat — were you?

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It would have been nice to be offered the option of more heat, but overall it fit with the more refined nature of the meal. Flavours were mainly subtle and complex, not vibrant and bracing.

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We heard about this restaurant many months ago (I recall it’s been opened less than a year) but thought the prices were on the high side ($125 for the tasting menu) and so took a pass. Then a friend said it was good, so we went with a few other friends for a visit about a month ago.

We did the tasting menu which appears mostly the same as in Dr. John’s photos (sans the cocktails which we did wine instead). IIRC, the waitress said the Thai chef was trained in French cuisine and so he wanted to use elements of the 2 cuisines for his own interpretation of “Thai” in Savor.

Overall, it didn’t feel or taste much like Thai so I think Dr. John’s description “definitely not traditional Thai” is pretty bang on. A few of the dishes were poorly present. One dish used liquid nitrogen or something that somehow ended up all over the table and even spilled only our friend’s shoe. We told them they really needed to rethink how that dish was presented. They agreed wholeheartedly.

Many of the dishes were rather simple but presented to look better. Overall, the consensus impression of the table was it was a decent try but for $125, it missed the mark by a decent margin.

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I’m curious, was the presentation any better in our photos compared to when you had it? We thought the presentation was well done overall. They did use liquid nitrogen to present one of the cocktails, but there was no danger of spillage as they put the drink down and then added the liquid nitrogen to the surrounding dish. Maybe they implemented your suggestion.

There was definitely a Thai profile to the flavours for us: lime, fish sauce, lemongrass, galangal, cilantro, etc. were in evidence. Sticky rice figured as an element in several dishes. And the curries were clearly Thai-based. Maybe they have made improvements since your experience (or maybe our palates are less discerning).

@DrJohn & @Stevey was the chef actually there when you guys dined? I’m wondering if this is one of those celebrity chef places with quality issues when the chef isn’t there (David Chang, Nobu, etc…) and the celebrity is busy jetsetting.

Was the ‘sweet chilied Thai sausage’ in your starter/appetizer spicy hot at all?

I think Thai food can easily incorporate a degree of spiciness from judicious use of fresh chillies. There is a Thai housekeeper working in my department who cooks like an angel. I buy homemade Thai sausage by the kilo from her. It is very hot but super tasty.

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There was someone in the kitchen, finishing and inspecting dishes that looked like the chef in pictures, but I never got a close look.

There was little chili in any of the dishes. The spiciest thing we had was one of the cocktails.

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See, I would really miss the heat. It’s an inherent part of Thai cuisine for me, but as you mentioned in your title, this was ‘definitely not traditional’ Thai.

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No comment on quality but the “main chef” … Chef Art : Iron Chef Thailand definitely wasn’t there when I went. LOL.

Another thing to comment on though is that I went for the tasting menu … I felt the amount of food wasn’t enough … I left feeling still hungry and went for ramen. LOL

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I agree the amount of food was on the light side. As I appreciated this, we ordered the extra main, which we wanted to try anyway. By the end we were quite full, but the extra main definitely helped.