A January 2005 trip
to Savannah by zabelle
Quote: Whether it is down-home Southern cooking that you are craving or something as exotic as Moroccan food, Savannah can please any palate.
For a dose of history while you enjoy your lunch or dinner, the Pirates' House has the perfect combination of atmosphere and good food. Located adjacent to the original Trustees Garden, the Pirate House was a strong inspiration to Robert Louis Stevenson when he was writing Treasure Island.
Aficionados of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil will want to make a stop at Clary’s for breakfast or lunch to fill up on country favorites with a New York twist.
Another stop which was featured in a movie brings us to Sixpence Pub,
and if it isn’t enough to have Julia Roberts's endorsement, they have been named Best in Savannah 2003-2004.
If you have to have pizza, there is only one place in Savannah to go: Vinnie Van GoGo’s. If you go, be prepared to wait for a table, and if you can’t go, then order it to be delivered. Their delivery man will ride his bike just about anywhere in the historic district.
You can’t go anywhere in Savannah and not see one of SCAD'S many locations. As far as I am concerned, the best of their operations is Gryphon Tea Room . Whether you are craving a delicious sandwich, a warm bowl of soup, or a traditional English tea, you will find it here. Located in a historic building, it was one of our favorite stops.
Churchill’s Pub has become the most recent phoenix in Savannah. Reopening on December 26, 2004, after a devestating fire in 2003, it has taken Savannah by storm with its beautiful new bar and expanded menu. This is very updated pub grub.
Savannah was not a cheap city to eat in. We did take advantage of any specials that were being offered, and at the Pirate House, we used a -off coupon to save on the lunch buffet. We made the mistake of eating at the Whistle Stop Café
before we visited the History Museum and thus were not able to use the 10% discount. One of the most inexpensive meals that we had was at Vinny Van GoGo’s. When we were faced with over an hour's wait for a table, we opted for take-out. We ordered pizza, salad, and beer for three, and it cost us less than . There was no tipping, and we sat in the park adjacent to the restaurant to enjoy our picnic.
If you are going to drive your car, buy one of the parking passes. For you can park in designated spots, both lots and metered, for 2 days. There is a pay lot adjacent to City Market and also a large lot at the Visitors' Center. We never had a problem finding a spot near our bed-and-breakfast, and we drove to church on Saturday evening. Just watch out for one-way streets and right-of-ways.
Located on the corner of Bull Street, in the heart of the historic district, you couldn’t ask for a more convenient location. With the unseasonably warm January weather, we couldn’t resist the temptation to eat outdoors.
There were five tables out front, and we were lucky enough to get the last one. We did check inside, and although there was a non-smoking section, the air smelled very smoky. I was strongly reminded of most English pubs I have visited.
Service was fast and efficient; we put in our drink orders immediately. I’m afraid I am not a lover of Guinness or bitters, so I opted for a Carolina Blond, which is a local brew. It is a golden lager with a nice head and a light bitter back bite,
enjoyable enough that I ordered it again the second time we ate there. They offer an interesting variety of appetizers, running the gamut from Scotch eggs and smoked salmon to nachos and baked brie. You can order a salad, a sandwich, or a more substantial meal. We headed right for the entrees.
Al ordered the Beef Guinness,
a bread bowl full of tender beef tips, marinated in Guinness Stout, then simmered in a brown sauce with mushrooms, peas, carrots, and onions. It is served with a salad of crisp greens, onions, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Very satisfying.
Joe ordered the pork roast, slow-roasted, with mashed potatoes and gravy and collard greens. It was a huge portion and unbelievably tender.
I had the special of the day, ribs with baked beans and potato salad. I switched the beans and potato salad for coleslaw and collard greens. I adore collards, and these were no exception--slow-cooked with chunks of smoky ham. The ribs were a very substantial size, and Al got to finish them for me.
For dessert, one of the offerings was an éclair for two, but after Clary’s, there is no way we were going that route. Instead, we got the bread pudding.
It was a very good choice. Divinely sweet, with plenty to share.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 21, 2005
Six Pence Pub
245 Bull Street
Savannah, Georgia 31401
912 233 3156
Restaurant | "Churchill Pub"
They have a beautiful new location on Bay Street, almost across the street from the Hyatt. The first thing you notice as you walk in the door is the gorgeous 34-foot mahogany bar
handcrafted and imported from England. Two dining rooms offer you a choice of warm decors.
Now a great location and a pretty bar are one thing, but what will keep us coming back is good food. Forget everything you have ever heard about bland British food - it ain’t happening here. Not that you won’t find all your old favorites: bangers and mash, bubble and squeak, shepherd’s pie, fish-and-chips, and ploughman’s lunch. They have an interesting selection of burgers, headed by the mad cow burger and followed closely by the black and bleu burger. I love a restaurant with a sense of humor. I choose a Caesar salad and asked if they would add a scoop of their curried chicken salad.
It was love at first bite. From the pumpernickel croutons, through the apple and walnut chunks, and right to the anchovy-laced dressing, it was a winner.
Al being Al had the prime rib sandwich served with horseradish mayonnaise on a hoagie roll. No one will need to twist his arm to get him back here. Joe had the shepherd’s pie, and he is quite the expert. It is the best he has ever had, which is quite a compliment, I must tell you.
Wayne our server was a doll. This man kept our glasses full and us very entertained. It was extremely busy when we arrived, and it took a while for us to get our food, but we were always well taken care of.
For dessert, Al and I split another bread pudding, this one with a buttery bourbon sauce.
Oh, baby, was it good! Joe had some sort of chocolate torte - not very English but deadly sinful.
This restaurant really has something for everyone, from a vegetarian sandwich to banger and bacon batty. They offer a fine selection of continental and American brews, but we had ice tea. They have rooftop dining opening soon and pool tables in the basement.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 21, 2005
Churchill's Pub & Restaurant
13-17 W Bay Street
Savannah, Georgia 31401
Restaurant | "Whistle Stop Cafe"
The menu offers some Southern favorites, including fried green tomatoes as an appetizer. There are good old-fashioned dinner food choices, like Hobo stew, and an all-day breakfast. Vegetarians have not been neglected either, with a four vegetable plate. Everything is railroad oriented, you will find express entrées, engineer grill, dining car dinner salads, switchback sides, boiler room soup, and box car beverages… I think you get the picture.
I ordered the grilled chicken salad
with unsweetened ice tea (from what I am told, this pegged me as a Northerner even if my accent didn’t). Al ordered the Philly steak sandwich and Joe ordered the soup of the day, Italian Wedding Soup. I had a taste; it had sausage meatballs, pearl barley, and a green vegetable, probably kale (Kay assures me that it's probably spinach), in a chicken stock.
The chicken was served warm, which was a nice surprise. In addition to the greens, there were egg slices, tomatoes, and cucumber. Al’s Philly sandwich had peppers as well as onions with the grill steak, a nice twist, and it came with some very good coleslaw. Joe raved about the soup, and he chose it on purpose to allow room for dessert. He ordered the peach cobbler, which was served warm with ice cream.
It was heavy on cobbler and weak on peaches, but it had a satisfying consistency that screamed Georgia to us.
Service was friendly, the food was satisfying, my glass of ice tea (fresh-brewed tea) was continually filled, and the atmosphere was unique. This is an interesting, if not totally inspired choice, and all the profits go to support the Savannah History Museum. If you answer a questionnaire at the museum, you receive a 10% discount on your meal at the Whistle Stop Cafe.
Whistle Stop Café
303 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive
Savannah, Georgia 31401
+1 912 238 1779
Like at any good diner, you can order breakfast all day, and the menu was interesting, including blintzes, crab cakes Benedict, and hoppel poppel. We ordered their house specialty, the oven-baked onion soup, and although it wasn’t even 1pm, they were sold out. Al and I had planned to share the soup and a platter called triple peaks. It has three salad scoops, one each of chicken, shrimp, and tuna. Without the soup, we had to quickly change our order. I chose the Caesar salad with grilled gulf shrimp and homemade Caesar dressing.
Al surprised us all by ordering a California Reuben. Joe had Savannah’s (according to their menu) best black bean soup, served with a scoop of sour cream and chopped onions.
All of the food was delicious. My salad had eight grilled shrimp and the Caesar dressing was loaded with anchovy flavor. Joe was very happy with his black bean soup, but I think the real winner was Al’s fabulous Reuben.
It was real sliced roast turkey, not cold cuts, real turkey. The coleslaw was a little sweet and absolutely yummy.
We decided to try their famous jumbo éclair for dessert. I don’t have enough words to describe this éclair. Imagine a behemoth big enough to feed three people and have as much leftover as was eaten.
Now you are beginning to get the idea of the size of this thing. I knew it was going to be big, as the menu says that it feeds two or more, but big doesn’t half describe it. It was almost the size of a loaf of Italian bread. It could feed six, and I am not exaggerating. It must have weighted, according to Al, 2.5 pounds. Now, I wish I could honestly say that the taste matched the size, but it was only okay. Buy it anyway; it is worth it just to see it.
Clary’s has two locations now. We tried to have dinner at the location on Abercorn and were surprised to discover that they close at 4pm. If you plan to dine late, you need to visit their location at Habersham and 61st Street.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 21, 2005
404 Abercorn St
Savannah, Georgia 31401
I didn’t realize when we first stopped here that they had an English tea menu. I thought I would just order a cup of tea and a sweet and that would be it. However, when I saw that they had real tea, there was no contest.
It came with the usual three tiers to temp your taste buds. I began with the most delicious amaretto scone; it was light and flaky, with a wonderful almond flavor. It was served with butter, jelly, and whipped cream. The second tier was the petite, crustless sandwiches. You had a choice of ham with butter or cucumber with cream cheese. There were enough to make a very satisfying meal.
Last but not least were the sweets. Every set up has four sweets, and Joe and I both had a different selection. They just pick four at random. What we got were cherry tart, brownie, shortbread, apple turnover, lemon tart, rugulah, napoleon, and mini éclair. Every piece was delicious. Add to that pots of tea, and at least two of us had a big smile on their faces.
Al wasn’t in the mood for tea sandwiches. He opted for a tomato and mozzarella salad.
The menu at the Gryphon offers many other choices besides tea. There are sandwiches, triple-decker clubs, and for the vegetarians, a roasted vegetable sandwich. They also offer deli sandwiches with a choice of meat, cheese, topping, and bread. They are open for breakfast and offer eggs to order, three-egg omelets, and plenty of breakfast pastries. They close at 6pm, so if you want to grab a bite for dinner, you need it do it early.
The building that houses the Gryphon is the Scottish Rite Building. Designed by architect Hyman Wallace Witcover, construction began in 1913. For nearly 70 years, it housed the A.A. Solomon Pharmacy. In 1982, it was leased by SCAD. It now houses not only Gryphon’s but SCAD administrative offices, and on upper floors, the Savannah Scottish Rite Masonic Center, who retain ownership of the building. The tearoom opened in 1998 and has been going strong ever since.
Gryphon Tea Room
337 Bull St
Savannah, Georgia 31401
+1 912 525 5880
Restaurant | "Vinny Van GoGo"
We walked back over and asked the person taking reservations if we could do take out. Sure, just go in and get in line. So that is what we did. Things move along very quickly inside, and we learned a couple of things as we waited. In Savannah, you can order beer to go, you just can’t drink it from the bottle. Okay, so we will pour it into the glass they provide.
The hard part is trying to figure out what to order. I’m sure most people in line were not first-timers. I quickly asked for everyone’s preference and then ordered. Three slices of pizza, a Greek salad,
two beers, and a coke (Joe doesn't drink beer). The total was just around $20. They gave us a number, attached our order to a clothespin, and sent it flying across the room. We took our drinks and went outside to wait the 15 minutes it would take to put our order together.
Time passed quickly as we sipped our drinks while sitting on the cement wall in the park across the street. Before we knew it, we were noshing on some really good pizza
that came in the most immense slices. It was an Italian picnic of sorts. Now the crowd around us was varied, and we were approached for money by some street people. It is really hard to refuse money for food when you are stuffing your face full of pizza.
This was a very interesting experience, and with the unseasonable warm weather, it made for a great evening outdoors. I really hope to come back here and try this place again, but it was just as busy when we walked by in the afternoon, so I think a weekday might be a better choice.
Vinnie Van Go Go's
317 West Bryan St
Savannah, Georgia 31401
Restaurant | "Pirates House"
The Old Pirates House opened as a seamen’s inn in 1753. Here you could meet both honest sailors and bloodthirsty pirates. More than one hapless local found himself shanghaied and on a ship for the Orient. As you can imagine, this has led to rumors of hauntings and strange happenings at the Pirates House. Maybe it’s Captain Flint, who it is said died in one of the upstairs bedrooms trying to tell us where he buried his treasure.
We, however, didn’t see any unusual happenings; what we saw was a delicious luncheon buffet, for which we had a $2 discount coupon.
That brought the price down to $11, which was a steal. We got to choose from green beans, squash casserole, Savannah rice, roasted potatoes, burgundy tips, fried tilapia, fried chicken with an optional honey-pecan sauce, barbeque ribs, and lima beans with bacon. There is also a salad bar, which we totally missed. They deliver a board to your table with the most delicious corn bread I have ever tasted on it.
The quality of the food was amazing for a buffet. I fell in love with the honey-pecan sauce for the chicken, and the lima beans were fabulous, as was the squash casserole. We could not drink our drinks as fast as our waitress kept filling our glasses. She was amazing and always had a smile to offer us.
Just when you think you are going to explode, it's time to check out the dessert bar.
There was strawberry shortcake, pecan pie, and cake with a sauce. I tried the pecan pie and the strawberry shortcake. I know I have been trying for weeks since we got back to get that weight off, but it so delicious, I hardly have any regrets.
This is one buffet I highly recommend. The food is good and the place just oozes atmosphere. It is slightly dark and there is a lot of wood, and of course, a nautical theme decor. It is no surprise that it is considered a must-do when you visit Savannah.
Pirates' House Restaurant
20 E Broad St.
Savannah, Georgia 31401