Savannah, Georgia is a charming little town with an interesting historic district dating back to the 1700’s.
On our 4-day trip last week, we (my husband Martin and I) did a lot of walking, outside in the park-like squares (there are 22) and streets and indoors in historic homes and interesting, informative museums. By the time each evening came, we found that we had built up quite an appetite. Here’s what we ate for dinner:
Day 1: Husk restaurant - It features a modern interpretation of Southern food, highlighting the unique ingredients of coastal Georgia.
My entree of duck breast and duck confit served on a bed of farro and pecans was almost perfect. It was spoiled by one piece of duck that was mostly fat. Martin ordered trout atop a pancetta, potato, turnip, and braised leek mash, accompanied by a creamy velouté sauce topped with trout roe.
The shared side dish of candy roasted squash was sweet with a deep, wonderfully caramelized flavor.
Dessert was a peanut and muscadine trifle; a play on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It was made with brioche, crème Anglaise, muscadine grape jelly, and peanut butter mousse. Luscious and delicious. Muscadine, by the way, is a thick-skinned grape native to Southeastern states. Unlike most grapes, it thrives in hot and humid climates. It is also very sweet and resistant to pests. We often encountered it on Savannah menus.
Day 2: Olde Pink House - This is an 18th century mansion, which is also a national landmark. Secret meetings were held in the house that helped the 13 colonies gain independence from England. The inn's restaurant is famous for memorable dining experiences featuring seafood caught daily in local waters. It is traditionally Southern.
My entree was salmon, which sat atop horseradish-whipped potatoes, and was accompanied by a cucumber dill salad. There was also creme fraîche on top of it all - a bunch of flavors that went together really well. Martin ordered caramelized Vidalia onion and sweet potato ravioli with oyster mushrooms. It was finished with a savory pecan cream sauce. It was a creative Southern interpretation of an Italian classic.
For dessert, we shared a slice of crunchy pecan pie, made with dark chocolate and served with vanilla ice cream. It was superb. Of all four, this was my favorite meal and it is no wonder that it was the toughest reservation to secure.
Day 3: 17hundred90 Inn and Restaurant - 1790 is a significant date in Savannah’s history because, following the American Revolution and independence from England, the first free election of a mayor, city council and the formation of a Savannah city government occurred in that year. At the time, Savannah was a small village with a few hundred frame buildings, sandy streets, horses and wagons. It was a simple place, yet prosperous. The inn and its restaurant are one of Savannah’s oldest establishments.
Over the years, this inn acquired the reputation of being the most haunted edifice in Savannah. There are at least three ghosts which are believed to inhabit the inn. Anna is the most well-known. Guests staying in room 204 frequently report strange happenings such as jewelry or clothing being mysteriously moved from one place to the other. Some have experienced being nudged or having bed covers moved. She always seems to be a friendly spirit yet always wanting to make her presence known. According to folklore, Anna was a bride of an arranged marriage who fell in love with a sailor in the early 1800’s. She is said to have thrown herself to her own death from a third floor window onto the brick courtyard below, just as the sails of his ship left her sight and headed down the Savannah river to the sea. Some suggest that she was pushed from the window by her angry husband-to-be who had paid for her passage to Savannah.
Another ghost is a boy named Thaddeus who is sometimes seen on the ground floor of the restaurant and tavern. Thaddeus leaves shiny pennies lying on the tables, bar and the desk. He too is a friendly spirit who is sometimes experienced as a warm unexplainable presence.
Of a less friendly nature is a spirit that sometimes roams the kitchen area of the inn. The clinking sound of metal bracelets is often followed by pots and pans being tossed about or spice jars being thrown at unsuspecting kitchen workers.
While we did not encounter any of these ghosts, we did partake of a wonderful meal. For my entree, I ordered salmon Oscar. It came with tender blue crab meat, risotto, asparagus tips with Hollandaise sauce, and a melange of roasted vegetables. There was also a honeyed biscuit on the side. My only complaint was that the vegetables were a bit too spicy for me. Martin’s entree was an eggplant Napoleon, which consisted of sliced eggplant layered with a pesto-infused ricotta cheese and finished with a fresh tomato basil sauce and paired with asparagus.
For dessert we shared a chocolate bomb - A flourless chocolate torte nestled in a bed of fresh whipped cream drizzled with chocolate and raspberry sauce. Quite good.
Day 4: A.Lure - a restaurant that advertises itself as a contemporary approach to low country cooking, using fresh seafood and a farm-to-fork concept.
The meal began with a complementary biscuit with blueberry and mango butters. “In Savannah, we start with dessert first,” said the waiter when he brought it. But, I found it to be too sweet to be served at the beginning of a meal.
For his appetizer, Martin ordered the tomato bisque, which he found to be thick and tasty.
The entree both of us chose was the trout with carrot butter and purple potato mash atop roasted tomatoes and green beans. Everything was well prepared. I especially liked the carrot butter which gave the dish a slight sweetness.
For dessert, we shared a scrumptious pecan pie a la mode.
What about the other meals? Since we were staying in a bed and breakfast, breakfast was a big deal. Some of what we ate was apple pie French toast, cherry pie waffles, and shrimp and grits with gravy. Much of it was just too sweet. Shrimp and grits with gravy felt much too heavy for breakfast. Lunch was usually much lighter fare, and in smaller portions, as we opted to share when possible.
On our Uber ride from the airport, the driver told us that in Savannah everything is fried. We didn’t find that to be quite true. Although there were a lot of fried dishes, there were always alternatives. If I had to characterize the food in general, I would say that people in Savannah eat a lot of biscuits - we were never offered bread in the restaurants at dinnertime - and the biscuits were mostly sweet, cloyingly so. Grits was the one dish that was present on every menu (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), usually with shrimp. Another dish that appeared over and over again was pecan pie, which we both agreed was always delicious. There was also a lot of seafood and it generally was very fresh and excellently prepared.