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Savanna's Bar and Bistro

An Article by: Brady Johnson, server / bartender 
Draft: December 11th, 2021

Starting out

I wrote a post a little while ago titled, "Catching a much needed break", where I documented how I got the job at this new bistro. I'll retell that story briefly for those who did not hear about that. Basically I was in a mental rut ever since getting to school (Umass Amherst) in late August. When you go from working 55 hour weeks in the summer to nothing all at once it is almost like someone took away your prescription, especially when that was your source of happiness. I legitimately was experiencing some withdrawal symptoms by not being able to work. The Pelham House was such a huge part of my life over the summer and I needed to find something to keep myself busy.

So on that day in early October, I drove my friend to the store and I noticed Savanna's in my rear view mirror. It was like I finally found the igniter for the fire, deep down in my soul. So I dropped off my friend and pulled up to Savanna's where the owner and two managers were congregated around the bar. I pitched to them why I would be a good addition to the team and how excited I was to see this place open. I also told them that I would be happy to do whatever they needed to help. I felt good when I left and drove to pick up my buddy. We parked back on campus and within 10 minutes of leaving the restaurant I got a call saying I was hired. It was pouring rain but I did not care, it was euphoric in a way, couldn't have made me happier.

So the next day I started training and I would end up doing that for almost a week and a half until we opened. In such a short time working there I have already learned so much and I am so so grateful for that.

There is something special about everyone starting at the same spot. Everyone learning as they go. Everyone has their own set of skills that make them unique to the team.

From Skye, myself, Ja, Arianna, Emily, Derek and Kayla serving in the front of house. Kara, Jeff, Cam, and Dylan, expediting, and delivering the food to the customers. Perri, Lauren, and Libby greeting the customers as they come in. Nick, Ashleigh, and Libby on the bar. Greg, Matt, Jonny, Mason, Anthony, and Edgar in the kitchen. Trevor, Genovieve, and the owner Aaron running things up front. Everyone has their own job and does it to the best of their ability.

It's not easy starting up in the restaurant business, let alone in the mist of a pandemic but when you have an enthusiastic crowd of people that work together to achieve a common goal it might just work out.

The Drinks

At Savanna's Bar and Bistro, my job is to serve people. To talk nice and provide people with a welcoming and comforting attitude. But I am also a bartender and am always watching the bar to see what they are doing, from what I have seen so far I love it.

When I first got a glimpse of the drink menu I was excited, I love studying drink recipes and trying to form my own. I'll go through some of my favorite drinks so far on the menu based off of popularity and taste. The Fig Martini is undoubtedly one of the most popular drinks and it is my favorite based off of taste and easiness to make. Containing Figenza Fig Vodka and passionfruit puree. This is a perfect, refreshing drink for someone who maybe doesn't like bitter cocktails and prefers something sweeter. The Nantucket Sound Vodkarita which contains what will become the highly sought after Nantucket Triple 8 vodka. A glamorous drink that tastes as good as it looks. Containing, Nantucket Triple 8 vodka, grand gala (orange liquor), fresh lime juice, and simple syrup. A slight twist on the traditional refreshing margarita.

The classic Hibiscus Margarita made with house made hibiscus simple syrup, is always a reliable cocktail. At Savanna's, the bar is focused on quality of ingredients and attention to detail. All of the citrus juices that are used in the cocktails are freshly squeezed, nothing is packaged and I think that is the upside of having a bistro as opposed to a massive place that does 100 covers a day.

Now the Winter Holiday menu will be rolling out this week including drinks like the Snow White Cosmo and Dutch Chocolate Peppermint. All the more reason to come visit us at the bar.

The Food

While the prices may be high, you get what you pay for. And what you get is a visually appealing and fantastic tasting meal. I would classify the food that we serve as Contemporary American. The big hits so far have been the Filet Mignon, Ribeye Frites, Swordfish, Wood Roasted Cod, and Salmon or Tofu Quinoa Bowl as far as entrees go. Appetizers include such plates as the Tempura Fried Shrimp, Calamari (personal favorite), Wood Roasted Oysters, and Sweet and Sticky Ribs (customer favorite). The desserts have also been a huge hit with such items as the Creme Brûlée, Flourless Chocolate cake, and Savanna's Snowball.

Each plate that comes out of the kitchen, no matter what it is, is beautifully displayed to please everyone from casual restauranteur to the refined gastronomist. As someone who appreciates the fine art of food presentation, it is always a pleasure to deliver the plates to my tables.

Let's not forget about the Pizza. So far this brick oven has given out nothing short of glorious pizzas. My personal favorite is the Fig and Prosciutto Pizza. But the Mediterranean, Margarita, and Cheese never disappoint. Come stop by, share a pizza, and wash it down with a glass of De Loach Pinot Noir.

Why you should give it a try

I go to restaurants for a few different reasons...

  1. I want to eat good food.

  2. I want to sit back and relax

  3. I want to experience something new

  4. I want to be treated like I belong, I want to feel welcome

The good thing about a bistro like Savanna's is that you can experience all of this. The food is delectable and every bite you take has been fine tuned to satisfy your taste buds. Whether you sit at the booth seats up front or in the garden room, or the cushion padded 2, 4 and 6 tops, you will have no problem relaxing and enjoying your time at the bistro. I guarantee you, after working there for a month and eating there on multiple occasions, you will experience something you haven't before, especially if you are a resident of Amherst, MA. We are doing something that Amherst has not seen in a while, the bar and college scene seems to have trumped fine dining and enjoyable dining experience.

The Feedback I have Gotten so Far

As a server, I try to be as attentive as possible without being over zealous. So I usually check in with the customer a couple minutes after their food is delivered and then when I am clearing the plates. With the exception of a couple tables, every single table I have had tells me how much they enjoy the food. I hardly ever bring a plate back to the dish pit that isn't cleaned. That says a lot for a restaurant that has been open for only a month.

Now, we do and will have hiccups, best believe that for a brand new restaurant but we are working through all of that and trying to provide our best, each and every day.


The peaceful and quiet Garden Room in the back of the restaurant down the hall past the bathrooms

Great view of the Pizza oven, we try to cook our thin crust pies at around 600-750 degrees

The view you get when you first walk into Savanna's, with an open concept kitchen

The view on the patio, hoping this spring people can enjoy everything we have to offer

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