Restaurant Review: Savoro, Barnet

Food and drink editor Richard Cawthorne delves behind the Jaguar showroom to uncover a 'hidden jewel'...

TUCKED away in a mews setting off Barnet High Street, Savoro describes itself as a hidden jewel and it very nearly stays that way. You have to search for it, but the omens are good when you discover it behind the local Jaguar showroom - luxury of one kind preparing you for what is to come.The first impression of this 'restaurant with rooms' is that it has been freshly painted and then polished. Inside is all plain wood, pale pastel colours, recessed ceiling lighting and artful glass panels. It's an interior decorator's dream interpretation of relaxation.

The ambience is even more important than usual, since Savoro on a summer Saturday evening is a busy place. Clearly enough people have found their way round the Jaguar display to fill the room and by 9pm the noise level is intrusive. We counter this by close study of the menu, which is hearteningly straightforward with the twiddly bits confined to the small print, a fairly reliable indication of a good chef at work. Thus, among the eight starters, warm beetroot tart (�6.25) comes with mustard ice cream, fresh broad beans and avocado oil. It turns out to be one of the star turns of the evening. Crisp potato cake and piccalilli puree adorn the salt beef (�6.25), while the potted mackerel (�5.25) is home smoked with herbs and is accompanied by just the right piquancy of fresh horseradish.

Among the mains, fillet of venison (�18.95) seems late in the season but has exactly the right gamey flavour, set off by braised red cabbage and roasted carrot, though the roast potato is disappointingly ordinary. The veal cutlet (�18.95) is adorned with truffled saut� potatoes and green cabbage but the fresh wild morel sauce, while tasty, makes it a meal for hearty appetites only. Black spiced haddock (�15.50), with a reasonably authentic Cajun rub, is a hit and the 32-day aged rib eye steak (�17.95), although served medium rare and not medium as ordered, disappeared from the plate fast enough.

Desserts, at around �4.95 each, are a Savoro speciality. The Madagascar vanilla crme brulee, which would have been top choice, is off but there is jelly and ice cream and knickerbocker glory, both given new interpretations involving items like meringue and fresh fruits, to complete the meal. Service began in the professionally friendly mould but warmed up as the evening progressed.

Savoro has marked 2008 with a new head chef, Scotsman Robert Brown, and the award of an AA rosette and is actively pursuing an environmentally friendly menu, with meat, fish and vegetables sourced locally and an emphasis on seasonal produce. All this, and the evidence of my own visit, make it well worth the trip.

Savoro206 High StBarnet, EN5 5SZ020 8449

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