By George E. Humphries
The name of the eatery reported on in this review is a bilingual pun. The French language “savoir faire” is idiomatic for a human attitude of justified social confidence – “a sureness in social behavior” as one of my dictionaries puts it. And in English, among the definitions of the word “fare” is “range of food” and “material provided for consumption or enjoyment.”
So the name Savoir Fare is a bilingual play on words – reflecting a sure and confident hand in the kitchen and a wide range of good food. How much more educated fun can you get?
The restaurant is tucked away in the tiny village of Round Hill on Route 7 west of Purcellville. There, on the ground floor of the only significant commercial building in the village is a jewel of a restaurant in the lovely tradition of rural France, where I was blessed to spend a couple of years and found it impossible to get a bad meal.
Savoir Fare, like those rural French restaurants, is a dining experience to put on the list of “worth a trip.” And at only four miles west of Purcellville, it’s not a long trip.
Owner and Executive Chef Joan Wolford, who has provided catering to Washington and Virginia area VIPs for more than a quarter of a century, runs Savoir Fare restaurant and its catering operation with flair and distinction. She started her Virginia cooking career at the Heart in Hand in Clifton, and then founded the Hamilton Garden Inn in Hamilton, Va – a fine restaurant that we remember fondly. There she began the catering business that has graced hundreds of weddings, banquets, vineyard parties, and a host of other events, and which she operates from the same kitchen as the restaurant in Round Hill. In other words, she knows food.
On several recent visits, we have invariably experienced excellent food and service.
The dinner menu, which changes weekly to accommodate fresh vegetables and other seasonal fare, recently featured an array of salads including one with parmesan, pear, and walnuts and another with goat cheese, fresh berries, and almonds. Four appetizers included Fried Crab Medusas, Seared Peaches Stuffed with Gorgonzola and Bacon Dust, and “Vietnamese” Summer Rolls filed with shrimp and local vegetables.
The five entrees, apparently the standard number, included a Chef’s choice of available fish, a Filet Mignon with Creamy Bacon Horseradish Sauce, a satisfyingly tender Pork Tenderloin with Garlic Mango Sauce, and Shrimp, Chicken, and Sausage Gumbo, each with an appropriate wine suggested. On another visit a guest was able to choose a Lamb Salad entree, which sported ample and large chunks of lamb just off the stove and reportedly tasty and tender.
Other entrees have included Chicken Piccata, Handmade Potato Gnocchi, Fresh Ground Meatballs in Marinara Sauce, Lamb Bourguignon, and Pan-seared Grouper. Desserts are made on the premises and vary from week to week.
All the offerings are prepared with a French flair. Entrée prices range from the teens to up to $25. Dinners are served evenings from 5 to 9 Wednesdays through Saturday. Lunches, available Tuesday through Friday, are also enticingly creative and reasonably priced with almost nothing higher than $10. The Savoir Fare wine list features nine white, ten red, three sparkling, and two dessert wines coming from Australia, Austria, Argentina, France, Italy, and Spain, as well as California and Virginia.
As noted earlier, Savoir Fare follows the tradition of France and other parts of Europe of having great restaurants in small towns and bucolic locations. One excellent Vietnamese-run restaurant I visited in France was in the middle of a vast acreage of wheat. Savoir Fare could hold its own in the realm of little gems in the country.
George Humphries is a retired Navy aviator who began cooking at the age of 10 and has managed several large restaurants. He has lived in Loudoun Country since 1984.