Savory Hill restaurant in Moon described as 'relaxed and refined'
Chefs often dream of opening their own place where they can fully express their culinary philosophy and talents.
Thomas Langan was no exception, opening his own restaurant earlier this year in his hometown of Moon, offering what he calls “new American food.”
“Moon never had anything like it,” he says of Savory Hill, which opened Feb. 19 on Brodhead Road. “Pompeo's was the closest, but that was over 20 years ago” and has long been closed.
The 1-acre site of Savory Hill went through various incarnations over the past several decades: a residential home, the Lamplighter bar and grille, Dudley's Pub, McCoy's and Bullhead's. Langan and his wife, Melanie, bought the site in late 2011, then spent months last year having the building renovated inside and out. The exterior includes a new pergola over the front door and a handicapped ramp.
“Not much is original,” Langan says of Savory Hill.
The restaurant and menu are “relaxed and refined,” Langan says. Place settings include burgundy cloth napkins and oil lamps made of cut-off wine bottles, their labels still in place. Diners can sit on black upholstered chairs or in teal booths. Metal sculptures, some of stylized branches that reflect the trees on the property, adorn the light walls. The restaurant seats 86 in the dining room and 10 in the bar.
“We're trying to get both types of customers — people who want a quick bite, but we'd also like to have special-event dining,” Langan says.
Among the quick dinner-hour bites are Honey Chipotle Lime Spread crusted in tortilla chips for $6.95; a charcuterie platter that includes local and artisanal meats, house cured olives and fresh bread, for $8 per person; and Duck Confit Nachos for $10.
Dinner entrees include Seared Tuna for $22. The meal includes ginger-scented jasmine rice, vegetables and pineapple relish. Or diners can try the Grilled Strip Loin with boursin mashed potatoes, shallot marmalade and red-wine essence for $22; or the Apple Pork Chop with mashed potatoes, green beans, house-made applesauce and applejack demi-glace for $20.
Savory Hill offers a menu that changes seasonally, with various features on weekends.
“As we grow, we need to run them daily,” Langan says. “That's where the ‘chef's playground food' comes in … But I've been told I'm not allowed to take the short ribs off the menu.”
Langan's desire to be a chef came early on, even before he graduated from Moon Area High School and went on to Lehigh University to study engineering. When he started working at a Denny's in Allentown, “that's when I realized I really was pretty good” at cooking. He spent 18 months at Denny's before returning to the area to study at the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, graduating in 1993.
After an externship at the Ritz Carlton in Naples, Fla., he “bounced around South Florida, as many chefs do,” including stints at the Fiddlesticks Country Club in Fort Myers, where his wife grew up, and The Terrace Tropical Grille on Captiva Island. The Langans returned to Western Pennsylvania in 1999, when he landed a position at The Country Club of Meadville.
In 2004, the family of four moved to the Moon house in which Langan grew up, moving a few years later to another Moon home. Heinz Field hired Langan in 2005 as executive sous chef, then promoted him to executive chef in 2006.
While at Heinz Field, he catered many high-profile social functions, as well as events during three Super Bowl runs, two Super Bowl ring events, a Major League Baseball All-Star game and a National Hockey League Winter Classic. Langan attained the Pro Chef Level II certification and became a certified Chef de Cuisine while at Heinz Field.
Now at Savory Hill, he says, “It's always been my dream to open my own place and do it my way.”
Sandra Fischione Donovan is a contributing writer to Trib Total Media.
Savory Hill Garlic Herb Shrimp
When Thomas Langan, executive chef at Savory Hill in Moon, says his restaurant offers “new American” food, the word “new” extends not only to the recipes but to the ingredients he uses.
“We get our vegetables from Chef's Garden, of Huron, Ohio,” Langan says. “They're picked one day and delivered the next.”
One current entree on the menu is Garlic Herb Shrimp, which uses heirloom baby carrots, gold baby beets, baby turnips and snap peas in a creamy sauce over wide-noodle papparadelle pasta that Langan also buys fresh. The result is a fresh-tasting dish that allows the flavors of the shrimp, sauce, pasta and vegetables to shine.
For the shrimp marinade:
3⁄4 cup olive oil
1⁄4 cup mixture of herbs: basil, parsley, thyme, chives and garlic
Salt and pepper, to taste
For the entree:
10 marinated, peeled and deveined medium shrimp
Olive oil or clarified butter
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 ounces white wine
1 pint heavy cream cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (basil, thyme, chives, oregano, parsley and rosemary)
2 to 4 ounces grated, shredded or shaved parmesan cheese
2 ounces whole butter
2 portions fresh vegetables, your choice (Langan uses heirloom baby carrots, roasted gold baby beets, snap peas and optional roasted baby turnips)
12 ounces fresh pasta
Salt and pepper, to taste
To prepare the marinade: Blend the ingredients and pour the mixture over shrimp; marinate for 30 minutes.
To prepare the entree: Put about 6 cups of liberally salted water on to boil. In a saute pan on medium-high heat, heat the olive oil or clarified butter, and saute the marinated shrimp (see photo 1). Add the garlic, and saute until just done.
Deglaze the pan with white wine, reduce the sauce and add the cream (photo 2). Reduce again by three-quarters. Add the parmesan cheese to thicken and flavor. Season with salt and pepper and toss in the chopped herbs.
In another pan, melt the 2 ounces of butter and saute the vegetables until tender-crisp.
Cook the pasta in the boiling water, drain and toss with the sauce (photo 3). Garnish with the vegetables (photo 4).
Makes 2 servings.