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Savana Café
Savana Café
Savana Café
Savana Café
Pad Thai at Savana Café
Pad Thai at Savana Café
Foods from Savana Café

2011 Aug 25

After hearing about the closing of Savana Cafe, I decided to organize a lunch with some co-workers (3 of which are as crazy about food as I am). We wanted to experience Savana one last time. I will preface this with the fact that I have eaten at Savana once before (see review below) and it was absolutely fantastic. Two colleagues of mine had also been to Savana (albeit years earlier) and had fond memories.

To make a long story short, I was very embarrassed that I organized this outing. The food took well over an hour to arrive (close to an hour and 20 minutes). Normally that kind of time turnaround would be ok, but we were on a work lunch, had a meeting to get to and we ordered food that is very, very quick and easy to make. Green Curry (2 tofu, and 2 prawn), pad thai, and 2 burgers.

We started with the pork spring roll, which was bland, poorly rolled (fell apart when picked up) and just uninspired.

Although the curries were passable, they were inconsistent. My portion was extremely small compared to my colleagues, and they were plated on different plates. My plate was noticeably smaller (and it was a bowl). We counted 3 tiny pieces of tofu, horrible tasteless and borderline disgusting okra, and an uninspired green curry sauce.

My colleague who ate the pad thai (who just returned from a deployment in Bangkok), was very polite when he said it was just "ok".

The burgers were so over done to the point that they were charred beyond recognition. If I had ordered the burger, I would not have paid for it. It was that bad... but since we had been waiting, my colleague decided to bite into that mess of incomplete reactions and carcinogens. The fries were completely and utterly overcooked and disgusting.

The service was horrible. I was never asked for a refill on my pop (nor was anybody else at our table of 7), we had to ask for more water, and when I told the waitress that it was taking to long and we have a meeting to get to, her response was (in a curt tone I might add), "sir, there are 100 people here and 2 people in the kitchen, there is nothing I can do, I'll box up your food for you". Wrong Answer!

I realize they are closing in two days, and I also realize they were busy, but it's no excuse for sub-par food and horrible service. We had to run back to our office, after leaving the restaurant at a quarter to 2.

Closing or not, I don't think any excuse can redeem this restaurant in my mind. Sorry Savana, you blew it.

2011 Aug 9
Ron Eade has reported that Savana will close its doors on August 26.

They're billing it as a retirement, though their chef will be cooking elsewhere.

2011 Feb 21
Before Christmas a friend and I had lunch at the Savana Cafe. The Savana Cafe is one of the more interesting restaurants in Ottawa. This restaurant should be the poster-boy for fusion - seeing as thought Thai meets Caribbean at Savana. My friend and I both chose the lunch special which was a shrimp burger with taro chips. This meal still recollects in my mind since I ate it. It was fantastic, daring and more than enough food. If i remember correctly, the burger was made of chopped up shrimp (they were not finely minced, they were coarsely cut and held together in a patty somehow). On top of the patty was a generous amount of fresh cilantro, a hot pepper infused mayonnaise, shredded carrots and some kind of chicken pate/terrine. The burger was served with taro chips which were very delicious .They turn out like potato chips but have a slightly different taste. You can get taro chips in "terra chips" which is a blend of unorthodox roots that have been made into potato chip-like snacks.

sorry about the dark pic

We both thoroughly enjoyed it and asked that it be added to the main menu. I would love to come back and try more things off the menu. If this sandwich pops up again however, I wouldn't even hesitate.

Looking forward to my next visit,

Highly Recommended

2010 Aug 24
I went for dinner here with a couple of weeks ago and was very disappointed... I had been drooling over their menu for months, so I finally got a chance to order the saltfish an' ackee. Honestly, it could have been deepfried breadcrumbs mixed with tuna, and it was served with what appeared to be a fancy stripe of mustard, relish and ketchup. The beet salad was also pretty disappointing, being about as bland as could be. Cute spot, I might give it another try but next time maybe try one of the mains - hopefully those get a little more attention!

2010 Aug 18
Went there last night - last time I was there was 18 years ago - oi! Great food, frosty service. I had the tuna ceviche to start - delicious blend of peppers, shallots, coconut milk and tuna - a touch too much lime for me, but that's a personal taste thing. My friend had the callaloo soup and said it was very flavourful.

For mains I had the braised short rib - tender, very flavourful jus, perfectly cooked vegetables (I actually ate those first!) and a simply heavenly cauliflower puree with coconut milk. Wonderful.

My friend had the Mediterranean Sea Bass (not sure what this is exactly...) - said the piece was on the smallish side, but the foufou with chorizo was very, very good. I had a sample and you could taste the wonderful smokiness of the chorizo.

I had the sangria - wasn't a fan. I think I prefer the Spanish version - again, personal taste.

The meal was very good, only downer was the frosty service from our hostess.

2010 Aug 9
Anniversary dinner with the boyfriend tonight. The atmosphere was lovely. Nice, warm decor. Service was fantastic. Menu -- not too big, not too small. We had the 'salt fish an ackee' to start, which was extremely good. Yum yum yum -- flashbacks to Bluesfest fish cakes, but better! Both of us loved it. Amazing sauces. For our mains, we split the pad Thai (medium) and seared scallops. Both dishes were quite good, but the scallops really stood out. I don't think I'll ever enjoy a fully cooked scallop again. They were so tender, served amongst pieces of pork belly, baby bok choi, potatoes and enoki mushrooms. I highly recommend this dish. We didn't finish our pad Thai, so I'll be lucky to have the rest for lunch tomorrow. As you can tell, I'm so full right now; I can barely formulate full sentences. To drink, we had a half litre of Savvy Sangria, which was lovely. I think it had a white wine base, with guava juice and mint. I'm sure there's more to it, but alas, I'm full and lazy.
1 app + 1/2 litre sangria + 2 mains = $77 + tip
Well worth the dining experience.

2010 Apr 30
Had a wonderful visit here for dinner.

I was reading the comment about one restaurant not wanting to give extra sauce for free and I must say that Savana certainly provides you with plenty of sauce and it is very tasty.

As someone who does like a lot of sauces to dip my food into, the accompanying sauces for my dishes last night were plate-lickable! I made sure to clean off the plates.

We ordered only appetizers:

Savana slaw
Albacore Tuna Ceviche
Salt Fish an Ackee
Thai Chicken Satay
Coconut Curried Shrimp

By far my favorite was the Salt fish an Ackee. I really enjoyed all the dishes except for the Albacore Tuna ceviche. Which is strange, as I had a taste of it at the wine and food show last year and really enjoyed it. I found it bland this time.

The mixture of different flavors in the dishes is really fun and a huge part of the joy of eating for me and Savana certainly has dishes that satisfy that.

My dining companion felt that the service was not that great. I think I am becoming accustomed to Ottawa's mediocrity as I didn't feel as strongly as they did? I felt satisfied with the service.

I had not been to Savana for almost 5 years and have always wanted to return and am very glad I did. Hope to not wait as long next time.

2010 Mar 8
I have personally found Savana Cafe to be a hit or miss. Today, it was a hit - a BIG hit!

Ordered the Tofu Mushroom Wrap for lunch. It was SOOO tasty! I did the half/half (two fries and salad combo) and it was perfection!

2009 Nov 15
Why can't I stop posting about Savana Café? Most likely because it's a great restaurant and it never fails to please. Plus, the ambiance is perfect for a casual date or get-together.

This time around (which was actually a while back), I got a chance to try their new menu items and was definitely wow'ed. The braised ox-tail dumplings were absolutely delicious! The ox-tail filling was so tender and flavourul; definitely not your average dumpling as Rachelle (below) mentioned. I have a little nagging worry though - I just checked their starter menu online, and the dumplings are no longer listed, does anyone know if they're still offered? It would be a shame if they were removed.

2009 Oct 29
Savana continues to rock. I tried some of the new menu items last night for the first time and was not dissapointed. The tuna ceviche with blue potatoes is refreshing and the braised beef short rib is a yummy, substantial, hearty dish with the perfect balance of flavours. Heard the mahi mahi is also good.




2009 Feb 17
given your attentiveness to bang-for-buck economics here at Ottawa Foodies, i can think of no higher praise than your thumbs-up on this, Capt'n. Thanks for clarifying.

EDIT: ps, i think (but am not positive) that the "global" style was first popularized during the Vietnam "conflict" era -- served to American soldiers on leave, maybe?

2009 Feb 17
Hey itchy feet (ed: what a handle!)

Pad Thai at Savana:
I don't know if they use the same recipe but I get the feeling from the reviews that they still do.

In fact, the original recipe came from the chef that got hired away from Sante (Santé Restaurant) when Savana first got going.

The picture is a current Pad Thai from Sante from Craig Wongs food blog. It's alunch portion. Notice they now use a tamarind base (more traditional)and not ketchup (sometimes called the global or world style).

I can remember the last one I had at Savana (circa 1990). HUGE and I mean HUGE portion with lots of chicken and shrimp. The plate was surrounded by orange (and NOT lime) slices and I think cucumber and/or carrot slices as well.

I can't remember how much it was then,but if it's the same size and has the same amount of chicken and shrimp, then I think it would be worth 16 bucks. Leftovers for lunch are worth 5 bucks alone.

2009 Feb 17
i'm surprised no-one's asked this, and maybe its too gauche to do so, but isn't $16 a tad high for a noodle dish, esp. a ketchup based pad thai (assuming the Captain's recipe is still in use)?

I've been to Savana once and do remember it as a nice date place w/ nice ambiance. Think i'd go back as it brings two of my fav. cuisines under one roof (Thai / Caribb.), but is the pad thai that great or that huge? Does it come w/ sides? Does it do something the many Thai resties in town fail on ... for $6 less?

2009 Feb 17
Hey Barnickles (and anyone else loving The Savana Cafe's Pad Thai).....

I have the original Savana Cafe Pad Thai recipe. Circa 1988.

See here:

and here:

Anyone wanting a clear copy, just send your e-mail address via a messaage at my Ottawa Foodie profile.

2008 Jul 24
Really, is it still pad thai if there's ketchup in the sauce??? yikes. pad thai is best left up to thai places. try coriander on kent, and you'll see what i mean.

2008 Jul 14
After reading the previous posts about the pad thai, i had to go back and see if they had made a is easily one of my all time favourite dishes!!! i can happily report that after picking up an order after work today, it was just as delicious as i have always found it to be. if not better in my opinion. it was maybe a bit creamier than before, and slightly less citrus-y, but every bit as delicious. i'll be back!

2008 Mar 18
Amazing! I think they put a little bit of ketchup in the sauce.



2009 May 26
The Kalaloo soup here is sooo good. Very tasty, especially if you're looking for something different or exotic.