Perhaps it would be easier if we just fitted GPS locators on all of Joe Pytka's former chefs. Imagine an app that gave you the whereabouts and restaurant plans for Bastide exes Ludo Lefebvre, Walter Manzke, and Alain Giraud all at one time. Such an app would have recently shown you the beautiful menu, the northerly beachside address, the hourly specifics of Paul Shoemaker's three-week-old restaurant, Savory. Shoemaker (Providence, Water Grill) was the Bastide chef after Manzke and before current chef Joseph Mahon, the last one to have presided over Pytka's Melrose Place restaurant before it morphed into a bookstore, albeit one with very good food.
Shoemaker has opened Savory in Point Dume Village, a high rent strip mall right off the PCH, across the street from Vital Zuman farm and just up the road from some of the best surfing in town. For the uninitiated, figure it as midway between David Geffen's house and Leo Carrillo state park. It's not as unlikely a spot as it might seem, since Shoemaker both got married and now lives right down the road. It's also a neighborhood badly in need of some serious food, which is what Shoemaker is cooking in the tiny kitchen behind the airy, wood-and-window dominated dining room. Savory is open daily for dinner, and this past Saturday Shoemaker opened informally for lunch, just to feel out the midday hours and see how it went.
Lunch went just fine, featuring a short list menu of crab cakes with Brentwood corn and fines herbes; shrimp ravioli with Toybox tomatoes and oregano; pizza with burrata, tapenade and tomatoes; and a prime dry-aged burger with pommes frites. Oh, and buttermilk panna cotta with almonds, basil and peach sorbet. Shoemaker says that he's not sure when he'll really open up for lunch (not enough staff, tiny kitchen), but that he's having a blast, enjoying the scenery and the local produce. McGrath Family Farms, not too far up the road, delivers three times a week, and farmers often just drop by with whatever's in season. Shoemaker makes all his own bread (mini baguettes, focaccia, burger buns), and he forages for herbs and greenery (watercress, sage flowers) in the surrounding canyons. On Saturday, the fennel flowers on the tables came from his own garden. "Everything's made here; that's kind of the concept."
The coffee is from LA Mill. Many of the wines are from Emilio Estevez' vineyard, which is right up the street. And the vast majority of the patrons are locals, some of whom come in three or four times a week. The kitchen may be tiny (before Shoemaker took over the space, it was a diner, and before that a Chinese restaurant), but he's got copper heating lamps ("I got spoiled at Bastide"), a three group Nuova Simonelli espresso machine, a bread oven and two immersion circulators. Shoemaker, who is from San Diego and co-owns the restaurant, also had the space blessed by the Chumash tribe. Shoemaker has plans to expand upstairs in the future, but in the meantime, he's pretty happy drying oregano outside the kitchen and enjoying the spectacular view of the mountains. And for the rest of us, there is finally someplace to eat King salmon with beets and dandelion greens between Oxnard and Santa Monica.
Savory: 29169 Heathercliff Road, Malibu; (310) 589-8997.
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