A prolific home cook who has spent years in the restaurant business as an administrator is mixing his talents to create “eclectic comfort food” in a restaurant of his own.
Stefen Bosworth and his partner Ron Rois have roots in the Pacific Northwest, although they have spent the past 25 years living and working in the Chicago area.
In downtown Langley, the couple opened their first restaurant, Savory.
Bosworth is a 40-year veteran of the restaurant scene who started as a server at a French restaurant in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle. Since then, he has been a general manager, director of operations and managing partner for a number of other restaurants — but never an official cook.
Nevertheless, the brand-new restaurateur said he believes he has the chops to pull it off after several years in the industry and working with award-winning chefs. He and Rois both develop recipes for Savory, although he functions as the main cook and Rois as the server.
Rois, who has never worked in a restaurant before, said he found opening night to be “nerve-racking.”
“Just like Ron, opening night for him as a server in the dining room was my opening night as a cook in the kitchen,” Bosworth said.
The restaurant is located in what was formerly known as Portico Latin Bistro, which permanently closed last year.
With only about 700 square feet, Savory can only seat about seven tables indoors.
There are a couple more tables and a couch outside on the patio. Besides Bosworth and Rois, there are currently only one or two other staff members.
“We are a small operation, and that’s the way we wanted it to be,” Bosworth said.
Because of the small space, the restaurant does not take reservations.
“Part of the idea is that folks can roam in,” Rois said.
Savory’s menu is a combination of recipes handed down from the couple’s mothers and grandmothers, new twists on favorite meals enjoyed at other restaurants and dishes inspired by the pair’s international travels.
Pasta lovers can find lasagna on the menu, a nod to Bosworth’s Italian heritage and the couple’s travels to Italy, but they can also find miso butterscotch braised pork and a Moroccan vegetarian stew.
The restaurant intentionally avoids any one label or cuisine. Instead, Bosworth and Rois prefer to refer to it as having “eclectic comfort food.”
Not wanting to step on anyone else’s toes, Bosworth said they consulted menus of existing restaurants in Langley before opening.
“There’s a wonderful world out there of culinary delights, and there’s no reason to be cookie-cutting somebody else’s concept,” Bosworth said.
“We felt like we wanted to bring part of us to the table and find a niche within the restaurant community here that was just a little bit different,” Rois said.
Savory aims to be a relaxed environment without any stuffiness. Although Bosworth said the new restaurant may be hard-pressed to ever have any Michelin stars, the community so far has given it a warm reception.
“We’ve opened quietly and slowly and the community has been pretty welcoming,” Bosworth said.
The winter menu has focused on a theme of “heartiness,” but will change to something “lighter and brighter” as the weather gets warmer. Bosworth and Rois have several new recipes in store, including Jamaican jerk chicken, tomato salads, chilled soups and more.
Savory is open for dinner 3-8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 2-7 p.m. Sunday.
Pre-orders are available by calling 360-221-7106.
• For more information, visit savoryrestaurantwhidbey.com.