Jake and I, my sister and sisters-in-law, Sharon, Kathi and Teresa, indulged ourselves by attending the Adobe Road Winery Dinner at Rocks on the River. I have long believed a delicious dinner in the company of fellow wine lovers makes for a fun and interesting evening and Tuesday night was no exception.
We walked the seven blocks to the restaurant arriving just in time for the serving of the first course which was deftly set in front of us by a rather handsome young man in untraditional waiter garb – jeans and collared shirt – while a traditionally garbed waiter (black pants white shirt) poured our first glass of the evening. Seared sea scallops over spring vegetable dumplings in a shellfish broth and topped with crispy prosciutto was balanced brilliantly with Adobe Road’s 2009 Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc. This is nothing like an Australian or New Zealand Sauv Blanc with its bright citrus and grass hints, but was smoother, more velvety -attributed perhaps to the 6-month aging in old chardonnay oak barrels – whatever the reason – you will find it on the Azalea Inn and Gardens in-room wine list for your delight and enjoyment.
It tuned out that the young unconventionally dressed waiter was actually the 33-year-old winemaker for Adobe Road Winery, Michael Scorsone who also happens to be a graduate of one of American’s top culinary schools, The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York! Michael shared the story of Adobe Road Winery – owned by renowned sportscar racer and entrepreneur Kevin Buckler and his wife, Debra – and the passion each member of the team brings to the wine.
Michael chose the 2007 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir as the partner for the second course of peppercorn crusted Atlantic Tuna with caramelized fennel stromboli and a baby Forelle pear.
Seated to my left I was delighted to find two wine greats of Savannah, Diane Rousakis of Ultimate Wine Distributors (who hold the key to Adobe Road) and Tim Rutherford, reknowned foodie and wine aficionado while across the table was Claude Auerbach of FORM. The right end of the table was held down by Paul Ganem of Johnnie Ganem fame and his gal pal Judy. Our chatter was briefly interrupted by the arrival of the third course of crispy house cured pork over a bed of Anson Mills grits with spring mushrooms. Michael offered the characteristics of the Knights Valley “Bavarian Lion Vineyard” Cabernet Franc 2006 earth tones and cranberry on the nose while the palate is teased with a sort of cigar box base with nutmeg tendencies. I for one cannot discern fully these subtle nuances of noses and palate overtures but my sides note reads “Wow!”
Now with two courses remaining, I wondered if Michael would continue to tantalize my tastebuds and keep his scorecard at a perfect 10! The pairing of Adobe Road Winery’s Knights Valley “Bavarian Lion Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 with Chef Jonathan Massey’s peppercorn roasted filet with creamy local ramps and crispy potatoes delivered the ultimate compliment of the evening and earned a “Double WOW!” of excitement from my family of dinner companions. There is no wonder that this wine earned a well-deserved 91 from Wine Spectator. I believe I heard Paul Ganem sharing with those seated closest to him that this wine could be found on the shelves of his store – or there will be until I get to the store!
Finally, as with all good things, the evening was coming to an end, and there was but one final wine and one more course. Chef Massey assembled a Black Mission Fig bread pudding with vanilla ice cream and a sticky pecan sauce to accompany the Russian River “Bacigalupi Vineyard” Petite Syrah, served up in a mini-cast iron skillet.
Psst… do you want to know where to find Cheap Eats that are actually Good Eats in Savannah? We have the inside scoop on new as well as tried and true dining establishments in our delicious city that won’t pluck your wallet clean of green. At least once a month we make an attempt to experience a new restaurant, revisit an old favorite, or give the proverbial second chance to a place that fell off our list of “good eats”. Yesterday, with sisters-in-law in tow, Jake and I discovered a new delight, Second Line, located on the west end of Bay Street quite close to our fav antique store, Jere’s.
Featuring Authentic New Orleans Po’ Boys, and though it is difficult to think clearly when I contemplate my college years, I must tell you that this is as close as you can get without traveling to NOLA. The owners began work on the Factors Walk space last spring, jumped through the required hoops, built tables out of reclaimed wood (old telephone cable rolls) and painted a wall mural of a familiar New Orleans scene – a “second line,” a reference to the impromptu percussive rhythms of the row of mourners behind the band in a New Orleans funeral procession and later the line of dancing, parasol-toting, kerchief-waving celebrants who form up behind participants in the city’s renowned jazz parades.
It was difficult to single out just one Po’ Boy and being frugal, we each ordered a sandwich and shared our bounty. I chose the Muffaletta, Jake the “Debris”, Kathi had Meatball and Teresa chose a hot Ham and Cheese – all were served on French Bread and dressed to suite our tastes, kexcept mine which was served on Italian Bread. My favorite was Kathi’s meatball sub, followed closely by my own Muffaletta though the Debris (hot roast beef, ham and turkey shavings in their own house brown gravy was singularly guarded by Jake. I found the hot ham and cheese to be tasty with remnants of childhood comforts in its simplest form.
The sandwiches at the Second Line were all under $10 and wonderfully filling when topped off with Sweet Tea and provided the necessary energy to get us through the walk back to Azalea Inn and Gardens, a mere 7 blocks of square-strolling beauty.
I’ve never been a fan of waiting…for anything. But in order to get a seat at Savannah’s ever-popular Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room on West Jones, I had to. However, once I reached the table overflowing with Southern delights, I forgot all about my wait and dug in eagerly.
Kolin (you know, Azalea Inn’s chef…and my man-candy AKA husband) and I had been to Mrs. Wilkes’ for my birthday last year and couldn’t wait to share the experience with some of our family and friends. So, when his mom and sister came for an extended weekend, we made sure to make time for it. A line forms early every weekday (they are closed on Saturdays and Sundays as well as the ENTIRE month of January) until the doors open at 11 am. Folks are shuffled in and seated as tables become available. Strangers share a HUGE Southern meal family-style and are friends by dessert, a tradition begun when the restaurant was a boarding house.
President Obama dined at Mrs. Wilkes’ this past year and the lucky patrons on-hand had a once-in-a-lifetime experience. While we can’t guarantee that you will dine with THE President, you just never know who might be sharing a table with you; after all, Savannah is a premiere filming destination. You could be eating with the likes of Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump), Julia Roberts (Something to Talk About), Will Smith (The Legend of Bagger Vance), and let’s not forget Robert Redford sightings during the recent filming of The Conspirator.
Mrs. Wilkes’ is definitely one of my favorite places to eat in the low-country (and may very well top my list). Come with a hearty appetite and schedule time for a nap after!
Did you hear about the Soul Food Showdown in honor of Black History Month? I can’t believed I just learned about a FOOD event only days before it winds up. Well FED Magazine is the sponsor and the event is easy to join. Simply eat at one of the following locations, then vote for your favorite restaurant, either in person (at your fav spot), via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or on Facebook. Cast your vote and you might be the recipient of a gift certificate to the winning restaurant.
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I can’t tell you how much a love a good lunch spot, and 606 East Cafe on MLK is just that. It’s quirky with fun murals on the walls, kitschy accessories scattered about, and waitresses sporting t-shirts that say “Diva.” I experienced 606 for the first time with my friend Michael. I had the Philly Cheesesteak (made with pepperjack cheese – AWESOME) and Michael had cheese sticks (also tasty).
Shortly thereafter, Kolin and I ordered some carryout from them and were (for the most part) not disappointed!
The pasta salad was creamy, which I normally steer clear of, but this was one of the best pasta salads I have ever had (no joke!). The tuna melt was disgusting, but the buffalo wings spelled redemption. I will definitely by returning! (And if someone in charge reads this, I totally want a diva tee!)
This week in Savannah is known as Oglethorpe’s Feast, more commonly called Restaurant Week.
From January 28th through February 6th (I know, that’s 10 days, but we’re not known for our math skills), 11 upscale restaurants are offering a 3-course meal for only $30!
While we try to stay away from chain restaurants, Kolin and I decided to try the Chart House during this Feast. This place was so fancy, they even put our name on the menu (I apologize for the quality of the pictures; I only had my cell phone)!
We started with bread and butter along with some tasty appetizers:
I am a HUGE fan of fried green tomatoes and hadn’t had a bad one in Savannah…but these fried green tomatoes had way too much going on to be enjoyable; the taste of cilantro overpowered the tomato.
The ceasar salad was smothered in homemade dressing and tasted delicious.
The clam chowder went down smooth with its creamy texture and light flavors.
Then it was time for the entrees:
Kolin ordered the spare ribs with mashed potatoes. The ribs were cooked perfectly with a tasty Cabernet demi. The potatoes, however, were dry and lacked flavor.
I chose the parmesan-crusted Hemingway snapper, topped with jumbo lump crab meat and drizzled in lemon shallot butter. Seem like a mouthful? It was. The flavors were to rich to enjoy, but the rice that came on the side was fantastic.
Dessert finished off the meal:
Kol enjoyed the Southern classic pecan pie while I chose the rich mud pie:
The meal had its ups-and-downs and taught us to stick to our guns when it came to only eating at local restaurants.
No, I’m not talking about a rich old man taking care of Savannah; I’m talking about Sugar Daddy’s, a chic restaurant on Jefferson near Broughton:
Kolin (Azalea’s tasty chef, as well as [did I mention?] my husband) and I decided to check Sugar Daddy’s out the other night. I dig the look and feel of the place with local art on the walls and familiar jazz coming from the speakers. As a lover of all things bubbly, I jumped on the inexpensive champagne flight:
I enjoyed it:
…and Kolin did as well:
We started with bread and cheese, as well as the Ciabatta Margherita:
For our main courses, Kolin chose the special that night, sun-dried tomato pesto-topped Marlin with asparagus and mashed sweet potatoes:
And I went with the Duck Confit Panini and mini side salad:
While the meal started with a tasty bang, the main courses left us a bit disappointed as they were both overcooked. Thankfully, there’s always room for cheescake:
So, what’s my advice for you, avid Savannah tourist? Definitely make a stop at Sugar Daddy’s for drinks, appetizers, and dessert to spice up a week night.
Just a bit south of the Savannah GA historic district, even beyond glorious 37th street, there is a neighborhood on the rise, the Starland District, home to quite a few distractions that are worthy of pulling one out of the magnetic field of the Historic Downtown: Back in the Day Bakery, Color Boxx Salon, and artist workshops behind the Savannah City Mission. As a young and frugal couple, the appeal of the Starland Cafe was driven by economics, my newly acquired VIP dining card offered 15% off my entire bill. One would assume the Cafe would be situated right along Bull Street in the trendy, newer construction, modern facade in which other hip businesses sit. However, just a half a block east of Bull on 41st sits a simple 2-story home typical of the area. Our friend met us at the front door where we were greeted by an artsy and vibrant atmosphere of bright colors, local art, and a large chalkboard upon which was scrawled the daily specials. I opted for the 1/2 and 1/2 combo featuring turkey meatloaf panini with bacon, Muenster, and caramelized onions coupled with the aptly named Kitchen-Sink salad. My wife chose the Blue Moon salad and our friend chose the soup of the day, Turkey Chili with grilled herb ciabatta bread.
We grabbed our drinks and sat down. Iced tea was my flavor and upon tasting my slightly sweetened glass, I realized that it was not your everyday Luzianne but rather an interesting blend that invigorated my palate. After a few minutes of chatter about how fun and unexpected the place was, our food was delivered timely and piping hot. The staff was ultra friendly and happy to please any request made. The food was absolutely ….scrumptious! The meatloaf panini was full of robust flavor and the accompanying barbecue sauce was a stellar hit with the Muenster and onions. My kitchen sink salad nearly exploded with toppings such as golden raisins, artichoke hearts, dates, red onion, red grapes, crunchy lo-mein noodles, and fire-roasted tomatoes and was dressed just enough to wet the leaves (my personal preference). Cami’s salad was piled high with blue cheese crumbles, crisp bacon, almonds. The turkey chili had great deep flavors only accomplished by a careful flavor layering with just a tiny touch of sweet left on the palate. The VIP card brought the total to just under $30 for our three entrees. At $10 a person, we found it a relative bargain; the food definitely spoke to the quality of care and ingredients. If you intend to try something new, or go on an antiques excursion down Abercorn, Habersham or Bull, perhaps to “Pinch of the Past,” do not pass this gem up. The Starland Cafe is a new favorite of ours, especially since we live a mere half-mile away!
Reserve your room at Azalea Inn and Gardens Bed and Breakfast, a Savannah GA bed and breakfast, and enjoy all that the Historic and Starland districts of Savannah have to offer or consider a Christmas Gift Certificate for someone you love in our enchanting city.
Yesterday, we attended the grand opening of a new sub shop, Jimmy Johns Gourmet Sandwiches, on Johnson Square. I was lured by the grand opening invitation: Enjoy any sub, #1-6, for only $1.00! Of course, being the magnanimous employer that I am, I brought along Kimberly and Kolin, my treat.
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Time now to slip inside the inn for a picture-perfect breakfast and some easy conversation around the communal table with the guests. What will we enjoy today? Ah, Banana Pancakes with Banana Caramel syrup, chicken-apple sausage, and a refreshing fruit cup of strawberries, black grapes and melon balls topped with blackberries and raspberries drizzled with a ginger-mint syrup, oh my! A little hot tea now to compliment my Savannah Sunrise – an Azalea Inn and Gardens breakfast specialty juice.
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