Savannah, Revisited

Two years ago, Mark and I went to Savannah over Father’s Day weekend and it remains one of the best trips we’ve taken. Short, but full of food and adventure and people so friendly you have to pinch yourself. I’m reposting the report from that trip to inspire a weekend getaway, for both you and us.

June 18th, 2008

I have a new love, and her name is Savannah, Georgia. We fell in love over food, she being the foodiest city in the United States, in my estimation. The Gourmand & I went for a weekend to interview the city as a potential nest. Those of you who know us know, we do our homework. I had scoured the internet and found intermittent reviews of River Street (like a cruise port with no cruise ship) and while the reviews for what was mentioned were passionate, one statement was missing: Stay off River Street and you can’t go wrong!

Clary’s Café
404 Abercorn Street, Savannah

Recommended by a post-carrier. (A highly recommended way to find a good lunch spot: ask a mail carrier.) We ordered a Reuben with fries and a fresh-roasted turkey breast with swiss, mayo, lettuce, tomato and chips & two sweet teas. Here’s the thing about Clarey’s, the food was perfectly proportioned. The sandwiches were stacked for a human-sized mouth and no Russian dressing ran down our wrists. Wholly satisfying – and free sweet tea to go!

Bacchus Wine Bar
102 E. Liberty Street, Savannah

Snob-free (except that they don’t have a website because they “don’t need one”) awesome wines list featuring a few standy-bys (Gnarly Head but no Yellow Tail) and some really out there finds. Example: Gruet Sparkling Rosé – by the glass! If you aren’t familiar, the vineyard is in New Mexico – buy stock now. The bartender and the owner both cited Local 11 Ten as their favorite restaurant.

Local 11 Ten
1110 Bull Street, Savannah
(website reflects old menu)

Get it? Local flavors served in an haute cuisine atmosphere with the most gracious and knowledgeable servers (Hi Tess!) I’ve ever encountered. And, upscale peanut butter and jelly. Served in a Ball jar, complete with hinge and rubber ring, filled with one layer of fois gras and a second layer of strawberry-rhubard jelly, topped with crush roasted peanuts, with brioche toasts and flaked sea salt. Oh. My. God.

Bar Bar
219 W. Julian St. Savannah

Where oh where was Hunter S. Thompson? When River Street empties and it’s boatless drunks need a night cap, they stumble downstairs to Bar Bar. Its a cavernous space, would be perfect for a wine cave, but instead dance balls hang from the vaulted brick ceiling, Vanilla Ice and Bel Biv de Voe blare through the mediocre speakers and tourists dance and sing aloud to strains of “Baby Got Back.” The tourists on this particular night were a group of women in their sixties (a book club, perhaps?) and some mom-types in elastic waist pants and matching t-shirts bedazzled with “Hilton Head” across their chests, and some younger aficionados of Wet Willies bopped and slide-stepped, leaving behind she who drew the short straw to stay at the hotel chaperoning girl scouts – in town to visit the home of the troupes founder.

J. Christopher’s
122 E Liberty Street, Savannah

To chase away the hangover and eat like a cardiologist’s wet dream, J. Christopher’s offered up the BEST blueberry pancakes I’ve had outside my own kitchen. Served with granola and (for $1.50 extra) a bum bottle of real maple syrup. We also had the Route 66 – a cast iron skillet filled with fried potatoes, corned beef hash and two sunny side up eggs – and an order of elliptical machine, defibrillator and Lipitor.

The Crab Shack
40 Estill Hammock Rd., Tybee Island, GA

“Where the elite eat in there bare feet” but not well. Except for the Brunswick stew which was passible, but enhanced with a suspicious liquid smoke flavor that was best finished by shoveling the remains into the whole in the middle of the table under which was a proper receptacle for salty, overpriced tourist trap. You can feed alligators in a neon green “pond” and stand in front of a webcam to call loved ones – perfect for a Father’s Day surprise to our dads back north. To be fair, not in Savannah but on Tybee Island where we swam earlier in the day, with rays.

Blowin’ Smoke
514 MLK Jr. Blvd., Svannah

A former theater (though you’d never know it from the shape of the building) that housed the teachers of Louis Armstrong, this BBQ joint comes with mixed reviews. It, ironically, was the only establishment we went to that didn’t allow smoking. We sat at the bar and drank beer and ate fried pickles which were awesome, until about 3am. Then, ugh. not so much.

Sweet Potatoes
6825 Waters Ave. Savannah

We finished our culinary tour at Sweet Potatoes, way outside the historic district and it was a 4-mile drive for heartwarming comfort food. I had the lemon-pepper catfish, the Gourmand, the fried catfish. Both perfectly seasoned. Sides of dilled lima beans, sweet potato salad (with an unplaceable flavor, not bad, just…weird, like cilantro or lighter fluid) creamy sweet peas and tomato salad which, while pitched as local, were crunchy and not earthy or heirloom.

Overall, an amazing place that I will forever dream of spending a weekend of discretionary funds and lazy time, strolling the squares, admiring the architecture and watching my back for ghosts and roving bands of girls clad in green sashes. I will forever dream of upscale PB&J and save my pennies for a return trip to a lady who truly made me feel like I’m welcome in her kitchen, anytime.