Shortbread usually follows a typical 1-2-3 ratio: one part sugar, two parts butter and three parts flour. But as soon as you walk into the Savoury in uptown Waterloo and smell shortbread baking, you know that the chef Terra Maurer doesn’t always bake by the rules. The smell of butter is what greets you, along with Maurer’s cheerful smile while she bakes, serves customers and rings the cash register.
The Savoury had been popular in uptown Waterloo long before Maurer purchased it. Having worked in the food and beverage business all her adult life, KW native Maurer befriended the previous owners while she worked across the hall at the Duke of Wellington.
“I had always dreamed of owning my own restaurant,” Maurer said. “I spent several years working and saving to buy a place. When The Savoury went up for sale, I knew I wanted to buy it.”
Her restaurant is part dine in, part take out and part British grocery store where you can pick up tough-to-find teas, sauces and candies from the other side of the pond. Maurer also offers business catering and has recently added late night hours for students looking for home cooking instead of fast food.
If you’re expecting standard British fare, you’ll find it here, like steak and onion meat pies and cheddar stuffed pretzels. But Maurer prides herself on taking the typical British staples and throwing a curveball at them. Her chicken pot pies (a top seller at the Savoury) have a gentle garlic taste through them that is natural and unexpected.
“The garlic is what makes these stand out,” whispers a customer to me when I notice that she’s buying twelve of the pot pies to go (she also informs me that they freeze beautifully). Maurer’s a millennial, and she brings those sensibilities to the menu as well. Her newest creation, pulled pork pot pies (which are offered on Friday and Saturdays) are a big favourite for the university crowd.
When dining in at the Savoury, you can expect your meat pie served with a fresh salad and drink. I also tried a samosa, one of a few Indian inspired menu items that Maurer offers. “Indian flavours are often featured in modern British food,” she explains, which is why she offers meat pie flavors like chicken curry and tandoori beef.
She encourages me to save room for dessert and brings me a piece of the shortbread that I’d been smelling. Warm, fresh, buttery shortbread. There’s no chocolate or fruit to dress it up, and none is needed. Before she rings in my order, I ask her for two more pieces of the shortbread to go (and a couple of meat pies for the freezer).
“Hearing someone praise my pies actually touches my heart,” Maurer says. “I want my customers to love eating them as much as I love baking them.”
Debbie Frey is the owner and Publisher of New to Waterloo, an online resource for people moving to Waterloo from outside the Region or province.