Anyone who has been to Savannah GA will know that the trip is worthwhile for the food experiences alone. We’ve been twice in the past three years and while the great B&Bs, southern charm, and beautiful architecture are allure enough, what really keeps us going back is the food. This city is, quite simply, a foodie paradise! It’s impossible for us to capture all of our food experiences in a single blog without turning it into a novel. Rather, we’re going to offer a glimpse of Savannah’s food culture by highlighting two ends of the spectrum: from almost regal decadence to good-old-fashioned, down home country BBQ.
First, the decadence, which we’re so very good at. We happened across an online event guide to Savannah which highlighted the Jazz brunch at the Westin Hotel and Resort just across the river from downtown. Now, to be clear, the idea of a brunch in a hotel is not normally something we would consider. However, being familiar with the Gospel brunches of New Orleans, this did spark some curiosity. When we asked our gracious hosts at the Kehoe House B&B, they insisted that this brunch was spectacular and worth the $45/person cost.
Come Sunday morning, we donned our Sunday best and bundled ourselves into a cab (Full disclosure: this was a mistake. Taxis are notoriously late – as our was – and to make matters worse we found out later that there’s a free water taxi, that’s very charming, which will take you straight to the hotel from downtown. Next time.) Once we finally arrived at the Westin, there was quite the journey to the Aqua Star dining room. As we neared, the sound of soft jazz from the very talented live band lured us toward the feast that awaited us.
And what a feast it was! We were gob-smacked as we walked past sprawling tables laden with all manner of delicious foods. Tables were set up with beautiful displays, some things you would expect at brunch and some delightful surprises. Indeed, there was too much to take in at first glance, the selection was so grand.
There was a marvelous plate – nay, vast marble slab – of cold cuts, delicious pates and decadent smoked duck breast with a side of lovely mustard sauce and horseradish to accompany your selections.
Next our eyes fell upon the selection of fresh raw oysters, cooked shrimp, smoked scallops and shrimp, baked salmon and lox that had our mouths watering before we even reached our table – a table perfectly situated close to the band and with a fantastic view of the river. Once we sat down and ordered our champagne (which was included in the price – and friends, unlimited quantities thereof!), we went on an expedition to explore the cornucopia of choice we were about to discover. So here we are: live jazz band, grand room with a great view, unlimited champagne and delicious food as far as the eye could see – we were in culinary slut heaven.
It’s important to note there were some typical breakfast offerings, like omelettes, pancakes and what-not, but we hardly spared a glance with all the decadent foods laid out about us. Indeed, we decided immediately to pace ourselves so we could enjoy as many offerings as possible. We started with the rack of lamb station, yes friends, freshly prepared perfectly cooked medium-rare rack of lamb! And this gem was situated immediately beside the beef tenderloin with blue cheese and blackberry sauce – OMG this is brunch! We indulged in the oyster rockerfeller, seafood potpie, roasted veggies, cold cuts and many cheese selections. We never even made it to the fresh pasta station, salad bars or some of the other foods available – we needed to save room for dessert.
We think you’re getting the picture, we could go on and on. There was a lot of food – so much so that the desserts alone took three camera frames… so from here on out we’ll let the pictures do the talking.
GEORGIA COUNTRY BBQ
In order for us to get to the Sandfly BBQ we had to take a taxi from downtown Savannah to the outlying community of Sandfly. Was it worth the $50 return (tip included) fare? On so many levels, Ab – So – Lutley!!!!
Let’s be clear. There is nothing fancy or pretentious about this place. Tucked away in a small commercial strip this place is all about the exceptional home cooked BBQ deliciousness; it’s not about ambiance.
The menu is displayed on a large chalk board behind the order counter. There are 5 meat choices: pulled pork; beef brisket; smoked sausage, BBQ side ribs and chicken. Then there is a wide array of sides, ranging from the famous baked beans, the equally famous fried okra, to mac & cheese and the ubiquitous sweet potato fries.
We ordered a sampler platter (sausage, ribs, pulled pork and beef brisket and Texas toast), then threw in a 1/4 chicken, fried okra, baked beans and mac & cheese for good measure. Gluttonous much :)
So, to the food. Tied for best of the bunch: the melt in your mouth beef brisket and the smoky, deliciously fatty sausage. Both were absolutely heavenly. If we ever get back here we’ve already determined that we’ll order sandwiches made with each of these yummy meats .
Tied for second place: BBQ pork side ribs and the pulled pork. The side ribs had a wonderful sauce cooked into the ribs – not sloppy at all, this sauce was essentially caramelized into the meat. The pulled pork was tender and delicious, and we had fun experimenting with the bottled sauces to enhance the flavour.
As for the sides, the baked beans with delicious bits of bacon and pulled pork were to die for. These sweet molasses beans cried out to be scooped from their cup by chunks of Texas toast, and who were we to argue!?
The fried okra also lived up to its reputation, and we were just happy to have at least one vegetable – even if it was a battered and deep fried one – at the table!
Perhaps the most fascinating part of the visit was sitting outside and watching the steady flow of people in and out of the restaurant (this place does a booming take-out business). Families in mini-vans were followed by a patrician gentleman driving a C-series Mercedes, a high-brow couple in a brand new F-Type Jaguar, and then by another couple in a 5-series BMW. An eclectic crowd all attracted by some truly outstanding food worthy of a 96% “Like” rating.
And as fascinating was the parade of local stray, and we think feral, cats that peeked their heads shyly from the building’s corner, watching those dining outside longingly. One very pretty ginger tabby was particularly brave, staying longer than others and endearing himself to us. We tore off bits of chicken and ribs and tossed them his way, but he shyly retreated around the corner without so much as a nibble. As cat lovers we were disappointed but soon discovered why he turned his nose up at our offerings. Just before the 8pm closing time one of the employees came out of the restaurant with a tub of pulled pork for the cat. As soon as she set it down the cat reappeared and tucked into the pork ravenously. Clearly this cat had much more refined tastes than scraps of chicken and ribs. Turns out that this 8 o’clock feeding is a daily routine – just another thing that endeared this place to our hearts.