When in Butler…

We all know, food is sustenance for our bodies—and family and friends offer nourishment for our souls. So when life gives you lemons, make lemonade… and that’s what we did…

It was a sad occasion that brought us out to Western, PA in early November. Russ’s beloved mother Mary passed away so we, along with his three grown children, and sister Dee and her husband David, all rendevoused to Concordia at Cabot, Mary’s current residence. Daughter Julia, sister Dee and her husband David all flew in from California (each on separate flights), while son Daniel commuted in from Massachusetts, and joined his mom and brother David to continue the trek from Glenside… Got all that??

Russ was already out there for several days prior to my arrival, so I drove a second car across the state. And good thing because we needed two vehicles for schlepping people around—not to mention transporting an assortment of household goods back East with us.

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Making a tiramisu log cake with me for Christmas in 2014 is Mary—a dedicated foodie herself. Original blog posted on 12/25/14. Russ learned a lot of his cooking skills from Mary…

You may recall that Russ and I moved Mary from her house of 40 years into independent living last June. During that trip we visited several new—and delicious—restaurants in the area. So with those establishments in mind, we enjoyed a few good meals as a family, despite the difficult times. One such scrumptious meal was had at the not-so-new Saxonburg Inn— which last year we enjoyed with Mother Mary and her close friend Janet—but since I wrote about that last September under the blog title “Dining Out on the Mother’s Trip” I’ll concentrate on a few of the others.

Before the kiddos came to town, the four older adults planned to dine out at Savor in Sarver (say that three times fast!) It’s a quaint little BYO restaurant in a small strip mall with regional american cuisine, operated by chef/owner Mike Rogers. But before we journeyed to Savor in Sarver, Dee’s husband David got stranded on the highway when his shuttle from the Pittsburgh airport broke down—kid you not! So the foursome became a trio…

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The facade of Savor… in Sarver… There, you said it three times 😉

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We were impressed with the cutlery presentation at each table setting.

Their menu is not extensive, but the offerings are ever-so-tempting! Dee started with a side of the popular Savor Salad—fresh baby greens trimmed with chick peas, artichoke hearts, carrots, tomatoes and cucumbers, topped with the house feta vinaigrette dressing. Her entree choice was Keith’s Waterford Salmon—fresh salmon filet pinwheeled with a clever blend of feta cheese, roasted red peppers and spinach with aromatic sundried tomato lemon butter and set atop a pedestal of garlic smashed potatoes. Large enough to tote home a doggy bag…

What appealed to me was the combination Towering Turf and Surf Salmon, consisting of an exquisite crab cake and a cod filet amid three steak medallions with a splash of three pepper lemon beurre blanc set on a foundation of garlic smashed potatoes. And Russ finalized the decision with The Other Guy’s Crab Cake. It started with jumbo lump crab meat mixed with Chef’s special ingredients into a succulent baked crab cake with risotto, honey braised red cabbage and mango compote. They all sound fabulous don’t they? And they were…

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Dee’s luscious salmon filet pinwheels.

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A plate of surf and turf was Lynn’s entree.

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Jumbo lump crab cake baked with risotto for Russ.

And let me tell you, Dee’s bedraggled husband David was more than ready for a glass of wine by the time he finally arrived!

The next night was a Friday and we had reservations at Evolution Grille, a seasonal restaurant in Freeport that showcases progressive american cuisine, with a unique menu that blends traditional classics prepared with a contemporary flair. With a large variety of options, I knew it would appeal to everyone’s discerning palette—plus it’s BYO! Our waitress Jessica was a hoot, and certainly knew their menu backward and forward. That particular evening everyone was starving, having commuted, and/or in Russ and Dee’s case running around, all day without any lunch.

So appetizers were calling our names, loud and clear! Younger son David zeroed in on the Gyro Flatbread special that was loaded with ground lamb and veggies. Son Daniel and brother-in-law David, both chose the Pierogie of the month—their signature Tailgaters, filled with pastrami and caramelized onion. Julia and I decided to share the Scallop special dressed with gorgonzola and a balsamic drizzle—to die for!! And Russ enjoyed a special that consisted of a crab cake filled grilled portobello. Not a shy one in the bunch, we all shared and therefore got to taste a bit of everything.

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The loaded flatbread special appetizer.

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A house favorite, “Tailgater” pierogies.

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The divine scallop appetizer.

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An artfully plated crab cake stuffed portobello.

Now onto those entrees. The boys each ordered the Sarver Supreme Burger—6 oz burger, with peppercorn bacon, cheddar, BBQ sauce and a whopping tower of onion rings (and they both opted for chunky blue cheese instead of the cheddar.) Dee and I chose the Crab Cakes—two 5 oz jumbo lump, tabasco remoulade with root fries and vegetables; each having enough leftover for another meal. Julia truly enjoyed her Seafood Pasta—hand cut pappardelle, scallops, shrimp, tomatoes, spinach in a lobster sherry sauce. And the “men,” as men do, ordered the huge NY Strip Steak smothered in sautéed mushrooms, a special of the night.

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Daniel and David devoured these towering burgers and fries.

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Russ and big David managed to finish these behemoth steaks.

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This crab cake dinner with parsnip and sweet potato fries became two meals for both Dee and me.

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Julia loved this seafood pasta entree.

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Julia, Daniel and David Hartman patiently awaiting their appetizers.

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Brother-in-law David Ruttan and his lovely wife Dee Hartman.

So if you ever find yourself out in that neck of the woods, you have a few tried-and-true restaurants from which to choose. And despite the somber occasion, it was so good to see family and friends and bond over some excellent meals. With so many visits back to Butler County over the years, we all have fond memories of dining with Mary. God bless…

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