I like brunch as much as the next 30-something woman, but I don’t always want to do my hair and put on eyeliner to spend $20 on eggs. Lights up on a rainy day when my husband and I wanted breakfast food, but didn’t want to go where we’d inevitably run into half of our friends (read: anywhere downtown). I remembered we’d driven past Savor a few times on Carolina Beach Road while running errands. We wanted to see what it was all about, so, I threw my hair into a ponytail and pulled my Uggs on over my sweatpants and off we went.
Savor is located in the former catering commissary and Southern diner Bon Appetit. Catering company A Thyme Savor took over in April 2019 and churched the place up a bit. For one thing, they added booze. They also updated the decor with soft, Robin’s Egg blue paint, trendy light fixtures, and tables with bright beach scenes. It feels like a cool place to be; perfect for a big brunch with the girls on Sunday Funday, but not too cool for us who want to wear sweatpants and no makeup.
Despite the crummy weather outdoors, when we walked into Savor, the energy was bright and bustling. We instantly were greeted by a busy, friendly server who told us we could sit wherever we liked. A corner table enticed us since its vantage point allowed us to watch the entire restaurant. We were only seated for a quick second before our server slapped down two big menus and hit us with, “Can I get you a cup of coffee?”
Nice. We must have had that look.
The coffee was good, landing a few rungs above “diner brew” and a few below “Wait, how much did this cost?”
The menu is diverse but not overwhelming. The “build your own breakfast” has a selection of proteins and griddle options, and there is a little lighter section with avocado toast, or a go-all-in with numerous Benedicts, shrimp and grits, etc. We opted for the latter. We knew we were going back to bed after breakfast, so why not indulge?
My husband went for the shrimp and grits; I chose “The Family Tradition Benny.” Plus, we ordered a side of sausage and a short stack for the table, and a couple things to go, but we’ll get to that later. No shame in our game.
The shrimp and grits was a lion’s portion—excellent for my husband’s big appetite. The bowl basically looked like a bucket. The grits were cooked to perfection: creamy but not mushy. And the thyme and bacon cream was divine. Sweet yet peppery, herbaceous yet rich—I think I’d like to try it thickened and slathered on top of the fried pork chop next time we visit.
The shrimp was as the menu described: “lightly blackened jumbo shrimp,” and there were a ton. The blackening seasoning lent a little heat to the dish, but it wasn’t spicy, just spiced. At $13 the value is incredible. If we hadn’t been trying to put ourselves in a breakfast coma, we could have shared the portion and been perfectly happy.
The Family Tradition Benny was served with a choice of NC pit ham (partially internally trimmed) or Wright Brothers country ham. I asked our server the difference and she said the pit ham is saltier. Something saltier than country ham!? Uh, yeah, OK! Sign me up! It also came with a choice of grits or potatoes, and I went for grits, which instantly prompted our server to ask if I wanted them loaded. I’m generally inclined to participate in loaded food, but the woman seated next to us poked her head around and emphatically cosigned the loaded grits to ensure I ordered correctly.
While there wasn’t anything remarkable about the Benedict, I was very pleased with the dish. I wanted a classic brunch entree and I got it. The eggs were poached by the book; the ham was extra salty; the English muffin was an excellent vehicle. It all was brought home by creamy, tangy Hollandaise, which is oh-so-delicately spiced with cayenne pepper to balance out the richness. Heaven. The loaded grits were devilishly decadent, topped with heaps of cheese, bacon, and tomato.
Because of Savor’s unassuming location and exterior, one might be surprised to learn the sausage is made in-house—or maybe not, seeing as A Thyme Savor has built an impeccable reputation as a premier catering company over 16 years. I was not aware and was delighted by the peppery patties. There also was a chicken option, but we’re pork people.
It’s worth mentioning now that, in the same way I judge a diner by its burger and a brewery by its lightest lager, I judge a breakfast joint by its pancakes. Pancakes are less of a breakfast dessert and more of a religion for me. One of my best friendships was forged over pancakes at the long since gone 9 Bakery on Front Street. I mean, is there anything as wonderful as wriggling a fork into a fluffy stack of breakfast cake topped with sticky sweet syrup? No. Savor’s pancakes passed muster and then some. I did a food dance (you know the one I’m talking about).
The two things I loved the most about our stack:
1. The pancakes were spiced with cinnamon and possibly nutmeg, giving them an extra-cozy warmth.
2. We went for the bourbon barrel stout syrup, which had a little boozy, chocolatey thing going on without being gimmicky. I wanted to wrap myself in those pancakes and float down a river of the syrup.
Our to-go snacks were the fried chicken biscuit and the biscuits and gravy—and both reheated gloriously. The breading on the chicken was light and peppery, which I appreciated because the biscuit was quite hearty. They could have served the sausage gravy on tractor tires and would have eaten it. It’s not often I stumble across sausage gravy with homemade sausage.
Despite the name of the restaurant is Savor—implying a slower, more labored experience of enjoying a meal—the service at the restaurant was remarkably speedy but not impersonal or hurried. We were in and out in 30 minutes. More like a time-saver, am I right?
Anyway, just go eat. You’ll savor every bite.