As I write, I am vacationing in the warmer climate of two of America’s great Southern states, North Carolina and Georgia. My husband and I have discovered that taking a vacation in March to where we can escape the snow and cold of a Maine winter is an alluring elixir for unpredictable temperatures, copious amounts of snowfall, and dirt and grime from sanded, wintry rural roads.
The latter part of our vacation has been spent in Savannah, Georgia. When I booked our stay, it didn’t occur to me that we would be staying during Eastertime and masses of other people would have the same inspiration. By the time we arrived, most places had been booked to capacity. All of these people staying in the area needed to eat. For us, the effect meant securing a table anywhere, regardless of its “star” rating, proved a difficult task. We usually eat during off hours as it’s easier to get a table, but this time, while eating a late breakfast and an afternoon snack was easy, securing an early dinner was not. It seems eating at 4 p.m. with perhaps a late night nosh before bedtime is not an original idea. We adjusted our timing to much later and while, still a challenge, it was generally “only” a half-hour to 45-minute wait.
Savannah isn’t the foodie hot spot that is Charleston. There are a respectable number of places to eat, but many seem to be tired and worn both in looks and menu offerings. “Organic” and “local” is not common, although I did find several boasted “farm” selections. Surprisingly most restaurants offered primarily fried seafood, well, surprising to me as I find so many people are steering away from fried food. Indeed, many of my friends, before I headed south, exclaimed over the varieties of fried foods which would be available. I can’t eat fried foods, but I’m pretty sure we passed “Paula Deen’s Creek House Seafood and Grill” at least six times, just to rub in that fact.
I became aware that while I heard talk around the city of a burgeoning craft beer industry when I asked for selections to go with my dinner, the choices were sadly lacking. Perhaps, I am just spoiled by my beloved Maine and its many breweries.
No worries! We stayed at the East Bay Inn where if they haven’t thought of it, you probably don’t need it. The innkeeper, Ronnie Jones was wonderful to talk with before we left. It’s obvious he treats his staff well and takes great pride in this inn. He shared they have named the resident ghost, Charlie who paced the halls at night (yes, indeed!) during our stay. No worries. If you tell him to stop, he does.
Thoughtfully proffered was a 6 inch thick, leather book with menus from restaurants throughout the city that they endorse. Each evening, 5:30 – 7:00 pm we were offered a variety of wines with a nice selection of tapas and an opportunity to converse with other guests in the sophisticated blue and gold, lobby décor.
In Savannah, you can take your alcohol with you as you walk around the city, as long as it’s in plastic. Nearly every corner has recycling bins, so the plastic cups and soda cans are easily disposed of. This was also an advantageous time to peruse the 6-inch thick leather book of menu offerings that had been gathered for the inn’s guests. This option is especially awesome for the adventurous, yet diet restricted, hungry food connoisseur.
I noted this shiny new penny on the list of “happening” restaurants. Have you ever had dinner in a bank vault? Well, you’re in for a treat at “Local 11ten” where an Old Savannah Bank offers this unique dining experience. They provide live music and use local and seasonal ingredients, served in a contemporary atmosphere. Its traditional southern fare turned chic and served with polished flair. They also partner with local community and social organizations.
“The Olde Pink House” is named for its pink stucco exterior.
Built by one of Savannah’s cotton families, James Habersham, in 1771, the house represents the essence of southern eloquence within its interior. Each room is elegantly appointed. The staff gets consistently high reviews, as does the food served with historical reference. It’s here that “olde” stands for all that is good about the history of Savannah. They have managed to keep traditional favorites while keeping up with changing palettes. However, diner beware! You have a greater chance of having a conversation with the said resident ghost of James Habersham than securing a reservation and the “wait list” during peak visiting times is often closed days ahead. Is it worth the wait? You’ll have to visit and judge for yourself.
When visiting Savannah, slow down and live in the moment as you step back in history to experience gracious southern hospitality, and what promises to be an inspired “future Savannah.”