When it comes to dining would I compare Savannah to its cousin, Charleston, just up the road? No, because they each have their own personality just like my cousins who we dined with at an excellent restaurant, Chives, not far from our hotel. I had requested that we eat where the locals eat and while this restaurant is downtown it is not as well known as venerable and well established eateries such as the Olde Pink House and Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House.
However there was much to rave about at Chives including the waiter, who was totally attentive to our needs, and the food that more than met our expectations. Our young waiter would inquire after each course was consumed “were we pleased?” and we were. My favorite of the meal, and that was hard to decide, was the She Crab Soup which I’ve always considered a Charleston tradition. The presentation nestled in the center of a clever soup dish (see picture) added a bit of drama to the presentation The soup itself while quite rich was as delicate as it was sublime. Because of its richness my wife and I shared to dish.
Also in the same family was the seafood stew billed on the menu as Ocean’s Five. I selected it as my entrée. The dish reminded me somewhat of Cioppino, California’s answer to the well known French bouillabaisse. However the menu described it as Gang(misspelled should have been Gaeng) Phet Talay which is a Thai dish that boast a spicy curry broth. It sported glass noodles somewhere towards the bottom of the bowl that was thick with shell fish including clams which I never see on menus in my area along the Gulf Coast. My only complaint, the need for another plate or bowl for the clams and mussel shells and the shrimp tails.
My wife selected the Prawns with Risotto. Being gluten free is always an issue when ordering but in this case there were many menu options which made it fun and not so challenging. Here again there was some cross over in the presentation because the risotto was studded with edamames and shiitake mushrooms. Sort of like East meets Whole Foods.
My stew was not very spicy but did give off enough heat for me. There was much to brag about at Chives including the entrance of two extravagantly costumed young people who might have just stepped off the stage of some Victorian play. They slipped in quietly and sat at the bar reminding me that SCAD, Savannah School of the Arts, was close by as well.
Had we more time I would have enjoyed dining at Alligator Soul if for no other reason that I am intrigued by the name. I should note here that Alligator Soul also features gluten free/vegan food. If you do go the OYSTERS A LA SOUL are a must.
Again time was not on our side but next time we’ll schedule an extra day so we can drive out to Tybee Island and dine at the Tybee Island Fish Camp. Set in an intimate 1950s cottage, this upscale Tybee Island haunt offers up inventive seafood preparations highlighting regional flavors and local ingredients.
The Fish Camp is the brain child of Tybee Island Social Club owners Kurtis Schumm and Sarah Lanier Schumm. The Fish Camp brings a more sophisticated presentation of local seafood than one might expect by the name, but least I remind our readers, we have Stinky’s Fish Camp here in Santa Rosa Beach where locals and visitors alike are willing to wait hours for a table.
Keep in mind though if you make the drive out to the Island the restaurant does take reservations because they only have six tables inside but you can dine at the bar or outside on the patio. Here’s a factoid about the owner/chef, Kurtis. He is from Crossville, Tn., and Meridith, who I bonded with via the phone, is from Sparta, Tn. We are totally six degrees of separation.
One more note, Food and Wine recently named Savannah’s The Grey one of the country’s best new restaurants. The magazine also calls Savannah’s restaurant scene a Southern Renaissance and a culinary destination. Move over Charleston your little cousin is all grown up.
IF YOU GO
Chive 4 W. Broughton Street 912-233-1748
The Grey 109 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd (912) 662-5999
Alligator Soul 114 Barnard St (912) 232-7899
Tybee Island Fish Camp 106 S Campbell Ave, Tybee Island (912) 662-3474