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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

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 Jul 29
Savana Café has updated their menu. Don’t be alarmed tho, they still have their infamous Pad Thai. But new to the mix are some dishes like Kerr Farms Braised Beef Short Ribs, Mojito Mariposa Farms Chicken Breast, Seared Chorizo Wrapped Scallops, Grilled Chipotle and Lime Spiced Mahi-Mahi and more, like the starters I decided to go with instead of my usual Pad Thai, which had quickly become an obsession. It took all of me to try something new. Luckily I was with my friends Teresa and Gina (for yet another birthday dinner celebration – thanks guys!), and Teresa couldn’t part with the dish, so I was able to have a bit of hers. The verdict – I wished I had stuck to the Pad Thai. But the food was still good nonetheless.

I started off with the Braised Ox-Tail Dumpling in a miso lemongrass broth with fresh thai basil. The dumplings were not at all what I was expecting. Normally dumplings have minced meat or pork in them, not these. They were full-on meaty dumplings, a very exciting twist on the norm. The broth was fantastic, slightly thicker than a regular broth and so zesty.

Next came my next two starters I had ordered for my main, Coconut Tempura Shrimp served with a spicy apricot and soy dipping sauce, and the Island Patties – braised Kerr Farms beef patties with roasted pineapple and scotch bonnet salsa. The shrimp were great, especially with the dipping sauce, which I found not to be spicy at all – perfect for my pansy mouth. And the batter was much lighter than expected, which I prefer.

I was very disappointed however, with the patties. This was the dish I was looking forward to the most. The meat that filled these thick patties was very dry, and the combination of the thick patty and dry meat made for an unpleasant eating experience. It’s also a pretty filling dish for a starter. I ended up removing the meat from inside and mixing it with the salsa and that helped, but I wouldn’t order it again.

To drink we had some sangria, so dangerously yummy and fruity, it's like drinking juice. I had been craving Savana for a few weeks now so I was super happy this is the restaurant my friends chose for my birthday bash. I think I do need to go back again soon though to order the Pad Thai. Why turn away from something so good. I had reviewed this restaurant before and had given them 4 stars. Although this is still one of my favourite restaurants, I am re-reviewing and bringing them down to 3. The dishes this time didn’t fit my expectations. Starters range from $5 to $15 and mains from $15 to $25.

2009 Jun 25
I've been to the Savana Café twice, once for dinner and once for lunch. Both times I was very impressed by the food, staff and decor. What a beautiful place! So colourful, it just makes me want to try everything on the menu.

Alas I can only comment on a few things. To start at the end, the desserts are ah-may-zing. I went to lunch with co-workers and three of us split two desserts, the spicy chocolate cake (could have been a torte?) and the creme brulee which I believe was infused with lemongrass and coconut. I don't remember the flavours exactly but I do remember that they were both absolutely delicious, and though my dining mates claimed to be too full to share 2 desserts, we licked those plates clean.

My lunch main was crab cakes, which were delicate and good. My co-workers enjoyed their burger (served with Two-Potato Fries--a must!--and a chicken wrap, respectively.

When I went for dinner, I believe I had a roti, which was excellent, and I remember my dining mates enjoying the Kalaloo soup as well as the fancy drinks on the menu. The calamari app was good too.

Overall, a delightful place for friends, family or an office outing.

2009 May 26
Kalaloo Soup - excellent; just enough spice; refreshing flavor; creamy; perfect

Mojito Chicken - tender chicken breast served with some veggies on the side and your choice of fries or rice - I chose the fries which were mixed with sweet potato fries and served with a chipotle mayonnaise, mmm very tasty; chicken mojito sauce could have been heavier; sauce was lacking in flavor...wouldn't order this dish again

Black Bottom Coconut Cream Pie - fluffy and light - very tasty.

Service - the server was very friendly and she recommended some great cocktails.

I can't wait to go back with some friends! This is a great little spot and the reggae/r&b music really adds to the ambience.

2009 Mar 15
While reading a couple of the previous reviews for Savana Cafe, I happened to notice their pad thai seemed to keep popping up as the favoured dish. That subsequently reminded me of the first time I had lunch at Savana and mindlessly ordered the pad thai thinking it was the safest choice at a "fusion" restaurant. Unfortunately for me, I hated it. The flavour, spicyness, garnishes - nothing agreed with my senses but I feigned enjoyment for my date and blamed over-eating at breakfast when I didn't manage to finish my meal.

I would have gladly not ventured there again, however, luckily I was invited for a dinner there a couple weeks later. This time I steered clear of the pad thai, ordered the curry chicken roti instead and absolutely loved it. Since then, I've gone back multiple times and realized I loved everything else on their menu (oh! except the soba noodles, didn't like those either) and am not able to deny myself their sangria and desserts unless I was completely gut-busting full.

Just goes to prove that you should always try to give a well-reviewed restaurant on this site a second chance :)

2009 Mar 7
My best friend and I went out for dinner at one of our regular spots last night, Savana Café. It's close to home, has a great little patio in the summer, and a colourful, inviting interior perfect for escaping the winter blahs of slush and snow in the winter. They serve unique dishes of tropical cuisine and the best Pad Thai in Ottawa. On other occasions i've ordered other dishes from the menu, which have all been fabulous, such as the Tofu Red Curry Bowl – vegetables, red coconut curry and roasted cashews; the Aqua Lemon Soba Noodles with shrimp, squid, fish, mussels, vegetables, tomato, lemongrass and sake broth; or even just a few starters for a meal like their Fresh Spring Rolls made with chicken, shrimp, peanuts, sprouts, mint, basil and cilantro and served with an apricot black bean sauce, and Grilled Chicken Satay with a Thai peanut sauce. But last night I opted for the Pad Thai. They serve a few dishes with bananas in them, like the Cubana Chicken which is stuffed with bananas, coconut milk and cilantro that i've always wanted to try, but staring at the Pad Thai on the menu, I weaken and 9 times out of 10 go with that. It's your typical rice noodles, chicken, shrimp, egg, tofu, peanuts and sprouts, but so much better than the Pad Thai from other places. The sauce has a lovely tang to it and just the right spice (I ordered medium). And for this reason Teresa ordered the exact same thing. We started off with some Shrimp Chips, these fabulous chips melt in your mouth and have a wonderful light and airy texture. The best part though, is they are served with this amazing Thai peanut sauce. Last night we found the service to be a bit less welcoming than usual, but when they offered to refill our peanut sauce, they redeemed themselves! For dessert, and I don't normally order dessert, I had the Savana Apple Mango Crisp, which was very yummy, but the real winner was Teresa's, the Chocolat Paté. If you have any wine left in your bottle, order this, the two together is magical. This rich paté is a flourless Belgian chocolate torte, drizzled with a crème anglaise sauce. Meals are very reasonably priced, starters range from $4 to $10 and mains from $15 to $25. They also have a great lunch menu and a decent wine list. I'll definitely be back again and again, and maybe, hopefully, try another dish.

2009 Feb 17
My first experience with the Savanna Cafe was my mother taking me there for my 16th birthday and I fell instantly in love. That was eleven years ago, and I still can't say enough about it.

Their phad thai noodles are unparalleled. Try the grilled shrimp salad. To die for. Relaxing here with good food, good music, the bright coloured walls, and a pitcher of Sangria is something no one could say no to.

Everyone I've ever taken (and I've taken many, many people over the years) has had wonderful things to say about the place - and has become a regular bringing friends there themselves.

Just make sure you order the phad thai noodles. Or you'll be coveting your neighbour's plate ;).

2009 Jan 23
I've been to Savana Café 4-5 times so far, and have always had a great experience. Last night i went back and had the Spring rolls as an entrée. They were very good. Pad Thai as main dish (and it's always too much when i get Pad Thai here, so i only eat half and then have the rest the next day as leftover). I usually don't eat desserts at restaurants, but at Savana, i HAVE to have the Banana Chocolate Cheesecake. It's to die for. Honestly, i can say it's the best dessert i've had at a restaurant. I finish my piece and want more. (good thing they don't bring out the whole cake) :)

Service is very good, and food too, it's definitely high up on my list of Ottawa restaurants.

2008 Jul 14
I had dinner here on Friday with three girlfriends. This is one of my favourite restaurants.
I always order the Kalaloo soup to start (made with okra and scotch bonnet peppers). I found it much spicier than usual but still delish. They bring you a little basket of bread with this.

For my main I had the special which was cod with a spicy crust and two sauces: roasted red pepper and a cilantro cream. Both were very tasty and fresh. The cod was on a bed of coconut rice and was served with watermelon and pineapple.

No room for dessert this time :(

I was not drinking so they made me a delicious mixed fruit juice (cranberry, mango and guava?).

My bill for the soup, main and two fruit juices was $35.

I have to agree with BigMouth that the Pad Thai here does not impress (although I have never ordered it, I have tried other peoples). Pad Thai is best left to Thai restaurants.

2008 Jul 11
I had lunch here on Tuesday. It's a hot spot for my friends and I. I've eaten here 3-4 times in the past two months or so. I was very excited to dine at SC that day and had already planned to order the pad thai. On previous visits, I only got to sample the pad thai that my friends had ordered and found the one bite quite delicious so I was very psyched. It was a HUGE disappointment. In fact, I would say that it was the worst pad thai I have had to date! I love this restaurant but was really not impressed by 1) the lack of service (there was only one server during the lunch hour and the resto only had a handful of tables with patrons so it really wasn't very busy), and 2) my order. Frankly, I'm not sure if the chef had changed that day or what. Anyhow, I don't want to deter anyone from eating at SC but I did want to share my experience.

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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.