The Black Rabbit

The Black Rabbit

If you have lived in Savannah for any time at all, it is likely you have noticed the unique black rabbit art painted on the metal door of a building that sits on Barnard Street.

Time and time again I have driven by that very spot and wondered, “What could be behind those rolling doors and who is responsible for the artwork?”

Well, my questions were answered in September. As a food lover, I could not have been more excited with the news that The Black Rabbit bar and restaurant opened its doors—big metal garage doors—to the public.

The surrounding district has gained another unique and approachable joint whose aim is to cater to locals. The responsible parties are partners David Hutchison and Patrick Zimmerman.

The story began about fifteen years ago when a friend of Hutchison spotted the building that now holds The Black Rabbit, which was originally a two-stall store front.

“The building literally had been a salon, a cobbler, a hotdog stand, a record store, and there was a vintage picker,” Hutchison explained as I waited for several sandwiches to come out of the kitchen.

Hutchison’s family purchased the building, and he quickly opened a gallery and intended on filling the second side of the building with a coffee shop. After several years of sitting unused, Hutchison began looking for a business partner to start building their local spot, and that’s where Patrick Zimmerman came into the mix.

The building received its name as The Black Rabbit over ten years ago, when Hutchison commissioned Miguel, a traveling artist from Texas, to paint the black rabbit on the door of the building.

As for business partner Patrick Zimmerman, he is no stranger to the local food scene. He has worked behind the scenes at both Betty Bombers and Butterhead Greens Cafe. So as you can imagine, the sandwiches he is currently putting out are nothing short of delectable.

“We wanted to keep [the menu] pretty straightforward,” Zimmerman said in explaining his thoughts behind creating the new menu. “I was going for kinda comfort food but also stuff people would like, even vegetarians.”

Let’s start at the very top of the list—the Smoked Turkey sandwich. Perfectly toasted sourdough bread that is perfectly buttery but not greasy encases paper thin slices of salty smoked turkey, melted havarti cheese, and Zimmerman’s Asian inspired pepper jelly.

This sandwich is destined to be a local favorite, simply because I know just how much Savannahians love pepper jelly. The twist on this sandwich is Zimmerman’s recipe for pepper jelly. Taking inspiration from Asian cuisine, his sauce is more balanced than classic pepper jelly.

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Each type of pork on the Three Piggies contributes its own flavor profile to the sandwich, while working in harmony, creating one of the juiciest deli sandwiches I have ever tasted.

“We have a little fun, like the Three Piggies with Spam, pit ham, and sliced pork shoulder, which you do not see very often,” Zimmerman told me.

I understand that using juicy as an descriptor to explain a cold cut sandwich is odd, but the juices of the pork actually ran down my hand as I chomped down. Although included, this cold stack does not need mayonnaise to lubricate any dryness that usually comes from fresh bread.

To balance the sandwich, fresh thinly sliced onions are layered with a thick cut of tomato and crisp lettuce. The cherry on top is the extremely soft bolero bread that encases the entire thing. Gottlieb’s Bakery is responsible for all of the bread used at the The Black Rabbit.

For a side with your sandwich, I would opt for the in-house pickled vegetables, which come as spicy or regular.

“Radishes, green beans, turnips, carrots, onions, and garlic,” are cooked “real straight forward with sugar, salt, vinegar, peppercorns, water, and bay leaf. I add jalapeños for the spicy one,” Zimmerman explained when I asked how he makes his pickled vegetables.

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More on the Southern side is the cucumber, tomato, and onion salad. It is just like the bowl of garden fresh onions and tomatoes you will find included on the dinner table during many Southern meals. The idea behind this side was to offer something lighter to complement the hearty sandwiches.

Finally, the German Potato Salad is available as a side. For his version, Zimmerman cooks the onions tossed with the tender potatoes in bacon fat, which results in an additional layer of flavor.
The Black Rabbit also offers dessert—King of Pops popsicles or a big slice of cheesecake from Fork & Dagger.

As for what readers, especially locals, are probably wondering the most about, the specialty cocktail menu is concise and to the point. You will find one cocktail for each type of liquor and nothing more.

No matter what your preference you will surely be satisfied with the preparation for that type of liquor. Even more so, you will be especially satisfied after reading the price of all of the house created and made cocktails.

Being a fan of bourbon, I opted for the Grandpa’s Kisses, a title that makes perfect sense after reading the ingredient list. Both bourbon and scotch are blended with apple brandy, honey, and bitters. Served in a crystal old fashioned glass, the profile of the dark liquors are prominent yet rounded out by the addition of sweet apple and aromatic bitters.

Zimmerman and Hutchison were kind enough to let me try the Room 225, a gin cocktail that is made silky by the use of sunflower seed orgeat, a nut milk.

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The cocktail is shaken with lemon juice and a few dashes of bitters before being poured into a coupe and adorned with lemon rind. It is fragrant and subtly flavored, a cocktail that would tempt you into drinking it all night.

Next year, patrons will have the opportunity to grab lunch at The Black Rabbit when Hutchison and Zimmerman expand their hours to become reachable to the entire neighborhood.

Original article is here.

 

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Coyote Oyster Bar

Coyote Oyster Bar

Last week marked the end of a saga for El Coyote’s team—Brad Syfan, Chef Tony Seichrist, and Executive Chef Landon Thompson—with the opening of their latest storefront, Coyote Oyster Bar.

When the doors of El Coyote opened just this year, they promised not one, but two additional food concepts for Savannah to enjoy within the large industrial building. You will find the chic yet beautiful oyster bar at the very top of building overlooking the west end of Victory Drive.

I asked owner Brad Syfan, who is experienced in running local seafood restaurant the Wyld Dock Bar, why open another seafood spot?

“We love raw seafood and felt like doing something to showcase that passion, that was definitely something we definitely wanted to do,” Brad said.

Since the brand new restaurant is an oyster bar, you must try at least one type of oyster offered. For me, I ordered every mollusk on the menu.

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Six different varieties are available served raw and on the half shell. Two types, the May River and Helena Salt, come from South Carolina.
Both of these oysters stood up to their northern counterparts on the tray, and could easily put the South on the map for offering quality briny and fresh oysters.

A bit further north in Virginia, you will find the Blackberry Point Oysters. They are sourced from the waters of the Northwestern Prince Edward Island before arriving at your table in Savannah. They will stand out among the others you order, because they are characterized as being larger and plumper than most.

The menu currently also offers oysters from Massachusetts, the Nasketuckets, and Maine, the Moon Dancer. Both of these variations are a flavor house of clean salty juice that can be attributed to their cold origins.

Finally, the Beausoleil oysters are from the coldest waters of them all—Canada. The characteristics of these highly prized oysters are meaty in size yet clear in taste.

To be expected, the raw oysters are served with a mignonette, lemon, horseradish, and cocktail sauce. The tin of crackers, made by Auspicious Bakery, are delicious on their own and rich in flavor because of the addition of lard.

Before ordering my first course of raw oysters, I was sure to select a specialty cocktail that would work in harmony with the subtleties of oysters in the raw. The Forsyth Park Picnic was a homerun, and tasted almost as delicate as the saltwater delicacies.

White rum is infused with lime then paired with grapefruit and blanc vermouth. The final touch is a skewered Luxardo cherry, which was the heaviest flavor of the entire cocktail.

All twelve of the craft cocktails offered at Coyote Oyster Bar were created by Syfan himself. He told me the “twelve unique craft cocktails were made especially for the upstairs and priced so that everyone can come try a thoughtful, meticulously made drink.”

The Isle of Hope Afternoon is Syfan’s “riff on a Caipirinha,” he elaborated as I glanced through the lengthy cocktail list. The addition of aperol sets his version apart, and makes the overall flavor of the cocktail reminiscent of a those red snow cones many Savannahians enjoyed as kids at Seaweeds after a hot summer day on Tybee Beach.

Because my husband grew up on Bonaventure Road, he insisted on ordering the Bonaventure Fox. I would describe this cocktail as a twist on a classic Old Fashioned, the twist being the use of Japanese sake alongside rye bourbon and cherry.

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“The Oysters Wyld are something we’ve played with for a long time. They are simple but so delicious. Roasted oyster with fresh thyme, garlic, and bacon fat flash roasted and served hot,” Brad explained, but he forgot to mention the fresh lemon that is served with the dish as well.

Although topped with ultra savory and rich components, the delicate sea-flavored meat of the oyster sitting underneath its topping is not lost. The combination hinted at the flavor of a scampi but with a crunch on top, which was the best part of the entire dish. The texture of the topping was like that of a streusel you would find on top of a blueberry muffin but the taste was much more savory.

The menu has the largest selection of crudo that can be found around town. Crudo, a preparation of raw seafood dressed with oil and/or citrus, is one of those dishes that I order anytime I am lucky enough to find it on a menu. I devoured two of the three preparations, the Fluke and Hamachi. The final option was the Tuna Crudo.

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The Fluke Crudo was served with an arrangement of apricot, coconut milk, thai basil, and green chili. Taking your first bite, you will experience the silky, subtle characteristics of the raw white fish. Next the the slight tinge of pepper hits your tongue before being swept away by the sweet and creamy coconut milk.

The sweetness of the apricot works with the sweetness of the coconut milk, while the apricots tangy notes lift the dish up. The last sensation to coat your nose and palate are the floral notes of the fresh Thai basil.

The Hamachi Crudo is just as delicate as the Fluke Crudo, but the flavors are balanced by a completely different combination of ingredients. Hamachi is slightly fattier and a richer fish, but it still maintains all of the delicate characteristics of a white fish. The raw preparation is served with a topping red Serrano peppers, pickled pineapple, cilantro, and ginger.

The most surprising dish of all was the Salmon Tartare. I can almost guarantee that most local menus offer some version of salmon or tartare dish that you have tasted or seen before. This oyster bar’s Salmon Tartare is unlike any tartare or salmon I have sampled before, which is attributed to one ingredient—green apple.

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The pungency of the green apple hides any “fishy” qualities of the salmon, especially considering salmon can have a bit of an oily taste. What remains in the dish are all of the mild flavors that most love about the fish, tangy crisp apple, acidic lime juice, and fresh green cilantro.

The large crostinis, served on the side, add a bit more fattiness that some may want with how incredibly bright and light the dish is on its own.

Original article is here

the Lone Wolf Lounge

the Lone Wolf Lounge

Although Savannah’s newest local watering hole, Lone Wolf Lounge, opened only a few short weeks ago, it has had no shortage of business.

Even before I stopped by the retro-tiki inspired lounge, I heard from several locals that the place was packed most nights.

This should not come as a surprise considering the owners, Tom Worley and Andrew Ripley, have years of experience working in the local service industry.

Worley began his eight-year local bartending career at the Bayou Cafe, and Ripley spent his time at the Sparetime, Cotton & Rye, and the Andaz. In addition to bartending, both owners have a background in playing music.

Being industry vets and seeing the ins-and-outs of running a bar caused the pair to begin discussing opening the bar several years before pulling the trigger on the Lincoln Street location.

As we sit at the bar chatting, Ripley tells me, “The idea was for us, although we worked with such great people around town, was to break free and do our own thing.”

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“We got it zoned first before we even signed the lease,” Worley explains, detailing the the history of the Lounge attaining its approval for use of the building as a bar.

The building was once the home of an insurance office, but now houses a local joint that transports you back in time when you walk through the doors.

“We liked this spot because it was kind of a time capsule. Joseph Muller was in this building in the ‘70s, and when he closed shop they locked the building with all of its stuff in it. It sat here for decades,” Ripley says.

He describes his vision for the bar’s ambiance:
“I wanted to have a Milwaukee neighborhood grandpa-style bar, just very comfortable. The other part of it you see in here is that Savannah is part of the Caribbean, originally it was part of the ports and the Caribbean economy. I wanted that feeling, when you come in here, that you are relaxed and on vacation.”

A beautiful U-shaped walnut wood bar sits in the middle of the room with a tower of high quality liquor sitting on the shelves behind it. The walls are covered in the original wood paneling along with some new palm leaf wallpaper and highly unique artwork.
Velvet curtains, leather, old lamps, and greenery are just some of the details incorporated into the space.

Ahron Mack, the builder of the Lone Wolf Lounge, constructed almost everything that can be found inside the joint. When he is not hammering away at the Lone Wolf Lounge, you can find Mack mixing drinks at Cotton and Rye.
When I ask about how they approached the menu, Ripley says, “I was trying to create a balanced menu that makes the best use of all of the stuff we have here.”

“Not everything we carry is like a magazine ad; we have really good stuff that you can get at a good price,” Ripley tells me.

I found the affordability interesting considering so many of the items used to mix their drinks are created by hand in-house, such as their grenadine, their tinctures, and their blends.

I was instantly drawn to The Glamorous Life because when seeking out tiki drink I feel that you cannot beat a straightforward, well-composed, classic daiquiri. The perfect version of this cocktail does not require a ton of frill or mixers, just a thoughtfully crafted mix. The Glamorous Life is just that, mixed properly to create a balanced drink anyone would love. Rum, lime, and sugar are the components used in the Lone Wolf Lounge’s recipe.1X4A9190

The Patient Zero is Ripley’s and Worley’s take on the tropical drink that is said to have started the tiki craze of the 1930s, Don the Beachcomber’s “The Zombie.”

The recipe for an original Zombie is said to use lime, rum, Grenadine, Angostura bitters, Pernod, grapefruit, and cinnamon.

The Lone Wolf Lounge makes this drink their own by adding banana, cardamom, almond, and the most important ingredient of all—rum. To be expected, it is served in a wooden tiki totem mug.

For those who want to feel like they are in affluent Malibu instead of our eclectic town, the Treating Objects Like Women should be your drink of choice. Served in a sleek tall glass tumbler, vodka, pomegranate grenadine, lime juice, orange juice, and ice make up this fruity yet refreshing drink.

You truly cannot select anything bad when choosing from The Lone Wolf Lounge’s House Cocktail list. And if you manage to drink through the entire thing, the (other) Cocktail list offers all of the usual tiki creations, such as a Pina Colada and a Hurricane.

The beer list is just as well rounded as the cocktail side of the menu, many of which are favorite beers of Worley and Ripley.

As Worley puts it, “if we don’t like to drink it, you probably are not going to find it on the menu.”

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What might be surprising is the care the pair took in selecting the wines offered at the Lone Wolf Lounge. Every available option of fermented grape would make any sommelier proud.

The Lone Wolf should only grow from here. Ripley and Worley plan on adding pool tables, darts, and the like to additional space in the back.

The future of the Lounge is stacked full, considering they are currently only using half of the space. The remaining half will bring much more to patrons in the near future.

For now, Ripley and Worley are happy running an establishment that aims to bridge local businesses together by offering a hangout where everyone around town can come together and get to know one another, all of course at a reasonable price.

Original article is here.

Cohen’s Retreat

Cohen’s Retreat

It was only last year that I was sampling Chef Will Herrington’s menu at Kitchen 320, so I was excited to learn he had transitioned his career to a new location.

After 16 years of working in various kitchens, this past May, Chef Herrington decided to transition his career again, moving away from a hotel setting and into a more artful and creative space—Cohen’s Retreat.

As their new Executive Chef, Herrington told me he loved the place as soon as he walked in, which is easy to understand with a place as beautiful and inspiring as Cohen’s Retreat.

Chef Herrington kept a few menu items that were extremely successful on his last list, including his Field Peas and Hoe Cakes and Blue Crab Grit Cakes.

“Our play on how to eat a crab cake has been a hit since it was put on the menu,” he explained.
The idea behind his menu is staying true to the Lowcountry, which Chef does very tastefully (and tastily too). Most of the ingredients are sourced locally from places such as Canewater Farms, then prepared in-house.

Working with Chef Herrington to create and pair Cohen’s specialty cocktails is Nikki Davenport. Her creation, Romesmary’s Revenge, is an ideal light and refreshing start to dinner. Silver tequila, Cointreau, rosemary simple syrup, soda water, and fresh lime are all shaken together.

A sizeable stem of rosemary garnishes the tall glass, which allows the effervescences of club soda to mix with the floral herb and hit your nose as you take in the airy refreshment.
The first course was an Artisanal Bread Board, the bread sourced from local and loved Auspicious Baking Company that featured two types of bread—tomato jam and pork rillette—alongside sweet compound butter. A rillette is simply a rustic pate.

This start to the meal embodied Chef Herrington’s approach to food: fun and approachable. I would compare the combination to a deconstructed barbeque pork sandwich. The tomato jam, sweet and slightly spicy, acted as the barbeque sauce, while the pork was shredded and tender with the appropriate amount of smokiness.

Transitioning to the new restaurant, Chef Herrington gained Cohen’s Lang Smoker which has inspired him to be even more creative with his food. Speaking of the smoker, he explained how he created the pork:

“When you do a pork rillette you want to braise it, so I decided why don’t we braise it inside of the smoker and let some of that smoke feed in to create a smoky pork rillette.”

Keeping things light, a Watermelon Salad was next up for me. The playful twist for this plate was the addition of pickled blueberries which had a flavor reminiscent of a sticky sweet reduced balsamic. The blueberries acted to balance the sweetness of the ripe juicy watermelon and the peppery arugula, fresh mint, and earthy basil.

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Next came Smoked Wings—four to be exact. Pecan wood smoked chicken wings are lacquered in Cohen’s BBQ Sauce and served with their own house pickles. The overall flavor, smokiness, sweetness, saltiness, and fatness, was well balanced, a difficult task to achieve while keeping the skin of a wing crispy.

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I found myself devouring these wings like a man watching football with no concern for any manners a southern lady is supposed to display during a meal of multiple courses.

The Fisherman’s Stew was unlike any seafood dish I have tried in a town ridden with saltwater fare. A deconstructed version of stew, the work of art was served on a plate and consisted of a thick tomato sauce, firm okra, pungent fennel, Carolina gold rice, sweet local shrimp, and a delicate market fish. Flounder

was the market fish they day I visited.
Each element worked together to taste as though the dish had been stewing for days. Despite this, Chef Herrington managed to keep the tomato flavor fresh, adding an acidic lift to the heartwarming porridge.
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The secret that brings a deepness to the composed dish is the addition of shrimp stock, made in house, that is added during the cooking process.

“We are so close to the water, it is easy,” said Chef Herrington in explaining his approach to the dish. He further explained that Cohen’s sources locally from Dubberly’s Seafood.

The recommended pairing for this dish is “Nikki’s take on a Sazerac, which is a big hit with our guests. Her twist is to use basil simple syrup that really emphasizes the herbal notes of the cocktail,” Chef Herrington told me.

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Next, Chef Herrington proudly presented his Barbeque Lamb Ribs, explaining ,“They are everything you love about pork and then we just take it up a little bit.”

Like everything else on the menu that is smoked, the ribs were not heavy handed in the amount of smoke that was allowed to permeate the red meat. The result was a delicate fall off the bone meat with an umptious, fatty, and well-seasoned bark.

As I chomped down on the first rib, the bone slipped right out of the meat leaving me to eat what remained with my fingers.

The jelly to the peanut butter of this entree is Chef Harrington’s braised collard greens, which were fork-tender and sweet, just like the best of New Year’s Day. Because lamb ribs are much more fatty than most others, the plate was served with pungent vinegary pickles ideal for cutting through the richness of the meaty dish.
It says a lot about a Chef if he or she can deliver an end to a meal that is just as memorable as the beginning. It was terribly difficult to stop eating the dessert, a bread pudding made with Auspicious bread, even though I had filled up on the four prior courses.

By cooking and serving the gargantuan proportion in its own cast iron skillet, every single edge had a crunchy exterior yet the center remained delicate. Apples, cranberries, and cinnamon were intertwined with custardy chunks of bread then finished with a house made caramel sauce.

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All of the flavors combined deeply warmed the soul, and the addition of cinnamon reminded me of the buttered oven baked cinnamon toast my mother used to make for breakfast.

The only thing that could’ve made the dessert course better? A giant glass of ice cold milk to wash it down.

Original Article

Savannah’s Capital Bee Honey

Savannah’s Capital Bee Honey

Savannah is one of those “little big cities” where it seems like everybody knows everybody else. So, while researching for my next article, it didn’t come as a huge surprise to learn that my husband grew up with Capital Bee Company’s owner Thomas Hinely.

After getting a little backstory on Broughton Street’s newest bee bazaar, I quickly jumped on the chance to pop into their new storefront and learn about honey from Thomas.

Though I went to learn the ins-and-outs of the honey hustle, I ended up learning Thomas’ tale, which is about as close as to the American Dream as I’ve seen in person, and he taught me how his perseverance and willingness to take risks have landed him as Savannah’s newest prophet of pollination.

After growing up a local Savannah boy, Thomas began nursing school following his time at Calvary Day School. Midway through, he decided to end his current route and follow his dreams—starting his own local business.

He asked his family for help, they obliged, and Thomas was able to begin sourcing high quality honey from around the country then hand pouring each jar.

From there, starting small, Thomas took his honey on the road selling it at craft shows all over the east coast. Next came a website followed by wholesale distribution.

I remember tasting Thomas’ honey at several events around town and seeking it out immediately after. To this day, all of their honey is poured and jarred by hand in their warehouse located here in Savannah.

Thomas began the company in 2013, and only four short years later, on the week of Thanksgiving, his first storefront opened on Broughton Street.

“We call it our Honey Boutique. It’s our happy place. We get to sell our honey everyday and also support a lot of other small vendors like us,” Kristen Harkleroad, the Director of Operations, explains.

At the brand new location, you can usually find Thomas there educating patrons about honey or pumping out samples of their wildly unique honey. Kristen can often be found working in the store as well.

“Capital Bee focuses on unique, mono-floral honey. We work with small beekeepers from all over the United States to provide the best honey there is,” Kristen tells me.

Monofloral honey refers to the type of honey that is predominantly flavored from one plant type, allowing the honey to retain the distinct flavor profiles of that specific plant.

Another unique quality of Capital Bee’s honey is that it is all unfiltered and unheated. I ask Thomas and Kristen about this, and she explains that “honey is best unheated and unfitted to preserve its natural flavor along with its naturally occurring nutrients.”

The Raw Blueberry Honey has a strong scent and flavor of blueberry due to its pollination from a blueberry bush. When you open the bottle, your nose is filled with the floral scent of blueberries, and the flavor of the honey is extremely similar to the taste.

Adding it to treats like yogurt, ice cream, and baked goods is ideal for such a unique honey.

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The list of mono-honeys is long, blackberry, raspberry, snowberry, orange blossom, and maple are just some of the distinct flavors available. Each honey smells and tastes of the plant from which it was pollinated, and not a single jar at Capital Bee has a drop of flavoring added.

Capital Bee’s most unique honey is sourced from Texas—the Guajillo Acacia Honey. The bees contribute flavor to the honey from the cream colored blooms of a wild desert bush, guajillo acacia. Honey connoisseurs flock after this honey because its flavor profile is unique with notes of chocolate and coffee.

My all time favorite product, which I would guess is the same for most of Savannah, is Capital Bee’s Frosted Honey.

Although the honey looks like frosting, the whipped honey only has a texture that is similar icing but it is made purely from honey. To create it, white clover honey is whipped until it transforms into something more fluffy.

The best-seller for the store is a cinnamon version of the Frosted Honey, the Cinnamon Frosted Honey. Both air and cinnamon are whipped into the honey for this one. Both products are perfect for spreading on top of almost anything, fruit, bread, cookies, and even that sweet potato casserole that is at every family gathering.

If you are like me, a spoon is the only accompaniment that is needed for this honey.
For those that are not a fan of the sticky, sometimes messy, qualities of honey, Capital Bee’s Granulated Wildflower Honey is something you should try. Wildflower honey is put through a special heating and drying process to turn it into sweet little honey granules. The sweet floral characteristics of the wildflower honey remain, making this product perfect for baking or stirring into coffee.

If you are a good Southerner like me, you find yourself bringing a bottle of wine or covered dish to any gathering you attend. Capital Bee’s honeycomb is something you should consider taking next time.

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I love adding it to a party’s cheese plate, and of course devouring that cheese plate with wine. The sweet waxy handcut treat works hand in hand with all off the fruit, nuts, and cheese covering a well built cheeseboard.

Just last week, the store joined the Savannah Art Walk and now features over fourteen local artist on the walls of the boutique and through the store. The actual art walk happens on the second Saturday of every month.

When I asked Thomas and Kristen what was next for the growing company and store, I was told “we are going to debut a few new honeys and we have plans on expanding to some other products soon.”

Cup to Cup

Cup to Cup

As with any city with a bustling business district and a lot of foot traffic, downtown Savannah is full of coffee shops. There’s a lot to be said for a coffee shop’s owner taking a liking to roasting his own beans. It allows for the craftsman to have an earlier hand in the process of bringing the cup-o-joe to your lips.

If you don’t know how much self-roasting coffee beans can do for a coffee joint, head over to Cup to Cup to see what I mean.

James Spano tells me that at Cup to Cup, “a continual favorite is the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe that has a great bright flavor with floral notes,” which shows exactly how thoughtfully produced Spano’s product actually is.

Other roast feature beans from around the world, including Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Brazil. No matter the bean, James roasts the coffee himself at his production space located on Wilmington Island in addition to being the “delivery boy, bookkeep, janitor, and salesman,” he explains.

As for the process, which takes about twelve minutes, James roasts the beans in a spinning drum heated with a direct flame. He controls the roast by controlling the airflow into the drum. To finish, the coffee beans are cooled on a tray allowing air to be drawn around them.

Although James’ primary focus is on roasting and providing quality coffee to Savannah, he always planned on opening a coffee shop to sell brews of his beans. James elaborates when I ask about his decision to open Cup to Cup Cafe in 2016 stating that “the idea was that I could start and run the roasters myself then as business improved invest in a retail setting.”

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Cup to Cup Cafe offers both traditional coffee house drinks, seasonal specials, tea service, and unique drinks that you can’t find anywhere else. Beyond beverages, you can buy a range of baked goods provided by multiple local bakers.

On Mondays and Tuesdays the baked goods are from Bakers Pride, Gottlieb’s is featured Wednesday through Friday, and Le Cafe Gourmet is on Saturday.

The most popular seller at the cafe “right now is anything iced,” which has spurred the store’s experimentation with “iced drinks this summer,” James tells me. One of their resulting creations is something that patrons have loved, the Coffee Tonic.

House-roasted and brewed espresso is shaken with ice then poured over tonic water. The drink has everything coffee lovers enjoy about coffee but with a lighter, bubbly feel. A perfect pick me up on a stereotypical Savannah day.

Some of the experimentation has included collaboration with local producer Capital Bee Company. James let me sample his newest creation, even though he was still working on it. Capital Bee Company provided Cup to Cup with a brand new honey that was pollinated from a blueberry bush.

James let me smell the honey, which overwhelmed my nose with the scent of fresh blueberries. He then took the fresh honey and combined it with their very own cascara, fruit from the coffee treat, syrup and bubbly water that is made to order.

The smell of the drink is just as strong as the honey itself, and it tastes just as it smells—of bright blueberries. As you wash it down, your mouth is next hit with the subtle cherry notes of the cascara and earthy hints of honey. Although made of sweet thick honey, the drink itself is light from the addition of effervescent bubbly water.

A second drink featuring Capital Bee Company honey is the store’s current seasonal special, the Cafe Miel. If you order this one you will receive a latte that is sweetened with Capital Bee clover honey and mixed with milk.

You can order this one hot or cold, but I wanted mine cold because of the hot weather. The drink has all of the classic flavors of a latte with the subtle addition of sweet floral honey.

On the more unique side is the Hop Tonic which is created with cold espresso and cascade hops mixed with tonic water. The unique combination adds the aroma of hops to the coffee spritzer.

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If hot coffee is your thing, I recommend trying a hot brew with the coffee of the day. I tasted a classic latte, brewed fresh and served with expert latte art created with frothed milk. The subtleties of the coffee are prevalent in the preparation, smooth and nutty without overpowering your palate with bitterness.

As for James, he loves “to drink a cup of black coffee…coffee has so many subtle nuances and flavors, I enjoy experiencing them without any additions.”

For those that prefer tea, Cup to Cup offers tea service brewed with your choice of locally sourced tea from Hale Tea Company. Even the cups were selected with care—Cup to Cup’s tea service includes classic floral china and a simple white teapot.

The available options include both the usual classics like black tea to more unique offerings like Darjeeling (that I was lucky enough to try with my tea service). The tea tasted slightly sweet with just a touch of earthiness, easy to drink without any addition at all.

Every third Thursday of the month, Cup to Cup hosts a free event that is open to anyone. The gathering includes free coffee tastings, discounts on drinks, and a little education about what James loves so much, coffee. The main feature, besides the stellar dark brew, is a new artwork for the month.

The shop allows any local artist who asks to hang their work on the walls of the coffee shop. Moving forward, Cup to Cup has become a part of the Art Walk where patrons can experience even more great local artists.

When James is not busy roasting coffee, working with local businesses, competing in coffee competitions, creating new drinks, out on a delivery, or running his quaint cafe, you can find him doing what he loves the most—working in the shop serving quality local coffee to local patrons.

Original article can be found here.

Beachview Java & Juice

Beachview Java & Juice

Part of Tybee Island’s allure, to both locals and visitors, is its qualities that have withstood the test of time against its potential to become saturated with high-rise condos and chain businesses.

With that being said, it is a rare occasion that a new place pops up on Tybee, and in many cases it is a familiar Tybee business that expands its resume.

As of this summer, Beachview Bed and Breakfast now falls into that category, opening their very own coffee, juice, and breakfast shop.

Beachview Bed and Breakfast is located on the south end of the Island, and has been a Tybee staple for some time. Owners Frank and Karen Kelly expanded the bed and breakfast in 2015 by opening a wedding venue next door.

After operating the venue for sometime, Frank and Kelly decided to switch gears and focus their energy on coffee and juice—an easy model considering the team’s love of coffee and Karen’s love of juice, Karen tells me.

The storefront itself epitomizes Tybee Island—rustic wood walls, a white washed wood ceiling, seashell chandeliers, and wall to wall windows for that beachside airy feeling. Walking in, you immediately take in everything our tourists love about our quaint and rarely-changing Tybee Island.

When it comes to the menu, “the entire team spent time researching coffee shops, small cafes, and juice bars, and they just started throwing different items together to come up with their always changing menu,” explains Karen.

Let’s start with coffee, which is in my opinion the most important part of any morning. After trying several coffee roasters, Beachview settled on Rev Coffee from Smyrna, Georgia.

Karen tells me: “We really loved Nick, the owner of Rev Coffee, and his personality and coffee.”

The flavor of the coffee is smooth and subtle, a great canvas for any sugary or creamy accompaniment that may get stirred in.

The “Beachview Turtle is our signature coffee drink and it’s served either hot or cold,” Karen explains.

I went for the cold version because the morning I visited was a typical toasty Tybee day. Two shots of fresh brewed espresso are layered in a tall glass with milk, hazelnut syrup, caramel, chocolate, and whipped cream.

Turtle could not have been a more fitting name. The drink is sweet, almost tricking the palate into thinking you are drinking a milkshake, but not before your tongue is tickled by the slightly bitter tinge of roasted espresso.

The restaurant offers several other specialty coffee drinks, including a caramel macchiato, a white mocha, and something dubbed The Don, which is served with steamed milk and a dark chocolate syrup.

For those a little more traditional in their coffee selection, drip coffee or a French press is available. The espresso options are just as plentiful, ranging from an americano to a Cuban, which may be my favorite way to drink espresso.

A Cuban is a double shot of espresso served with raw sugar at the bottom. You stir in the hot shot, which creates a warm pungently sweet shot of rich, dark coffee.

Equally as delicious is the store’s robust selection of fresh fruit smoothies. Every single ingredient is fresh, which makes the price of only $6 unbelievable.

The Berry Chill smoothie was my first choice because the list of ingredients featured every ingredient that is right about summer. Fresh bright blueberries are layered with syrupy sweet pineapple, tangy thick yogurt, and refreshing coconut water.

The emulsion is almost too beautiful to drink, and goes down quickly due to the balanced yet quenching and light flavor.

The Blueberry Kiwi smoothie also features blueberries, but has the addition of kiwi, almond milk, and honey—extremely unique pairings that give the smoothie a heartier and creamier texture and taste.

On the healthier side, although I am not sure you can get much more beneficial than what is already offered, is the Mango Kale Smoothie.  The lightest of them all, the Skinny, is blended with cucumber, spinach, mint, and orange juice — a smoothie that would be easy to drink beachside bearing the summer warmth.

Although named Java and Juice, Beachview offers more than just good coffee and refreshing smoothies. Karen tells me “all baked goods are made in house” and “she does the majority of baking.”

You read that right: The menu includes fresh moist baked breakfast treats ranging from muffins to French toast.

Karen also mentions The Nest, which is a dish that was created “one day when we [Beachview] had some extra ingredients.”

It is easily the most unique item offered at the quaint restaurant. Served in its own individual dish, shredded hash browns, eggs, and ham are baked together, which are essentially all of my favorite breakfast ingredients. You will find little salty bites of ham floating amongst tender and fluffy eggs, and the bottom adds a bit of texture with crispy hashbrowns.

“Our Swiss Eggs have been a been a Beachview Bed and Breakfast favorite and has quickly become a Java Juice favorite as well,” Karen boasts.

Like the Nest, this breakfast dish is prepared and served in its own individualized dish and is created with a combination of breakfast meat, cheese, and eggs.

On the more classic side of bed and breakfast food offerings is the Oscar Quiche, but the preparation is in no way classic. The order comes as a single slice of cloud-like egg quiche; floating amongst the robust wedge is a bounty of wilted vegetables of spinach, carrots, peppers, onions, and more.

As to be expected, the bottom is a tender flaky pastry crust that is buttery without being soggy. The bold quantity of ingredients is what makes this version far from classic.

Original article can be found Here.

Smith Brothers Butcher Shop’s Supper Club

Smith Brothers Butcher Shop’s Supper Club

The ultimate way for a restaurant or store to showcase its skill and imagination is by hosting a supper club, a temporary pop-up restaurant with a specialty menu. A recent new kid on the block of Savannah’s thriving trend of pop-ups is the beloved local Smith Brothers Butcher Shop.

The idea behind their supper club is to not only allow Chef April Spain to experiment and showcase newly inspired dishes but to also feature food from Smith Brothers’ popular suppliers.

I was lucky enough to attend Smith Brothers’ second supper club, which featured Grassroots Farms pork and produce from Canewater Farms. Chef Spain created and prepared the four course meal, which also featured wine pairings with a theme of rosé.

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To start the evening, the supper club hosted a cocktail hour filled with various hors d’oeuvres and a paired rosé. The rosé, paired by Matt Roseman with Ultimate Distributing, was Rosé All Day—a sparkling rosé that you could literally drink all day.

The wine “comes from the south of France and is a wonderful way to start the day,” Matt explained to the group. I agree completely.

A big beautiful wood cutting board was covered in various cheeses, all of which can be found at Smith Brothers, and of course a selection of various crackers sat next to the plate.

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Thick cut Beetroot Cured Salmon was artfully arranged on the table. Unlike most smoked salmon, this was served in thick slices which lended a heartier feel to the delicate fish.

Overall, the smoke was as subtle as the texture of the tender salmon, and the fish itself was lightly sweet.

Paying homage to the popular hors d’oeuvre bruschett was Smith Brothers’ rendition of tangy goat cheese smeared over toasted bread rounds with a topping of candy-like roasted red grapes — an upscale version more suiting for its counterpart of pink wine.

Also among the accoutremonts were Grassroot Farm Fried Pork Belly Skins, basically a pork rind on steroids. The fried pork was served simply with a dusting of salt and pepper.

It’s an appetizer that would have been easy to eat in excess, like when you open a bag of potato chips and cannot stop.

IMG_8463My favorite of the snacks were the Canewater Farms’ Fried Padron Peppers, which upon the first bite tasted like okra —and us Southerners love our okra. The savory little waxy peppers were tender and with a deep roasted flavor, a heavy dose of flaked salt sprinkled on the outside hit your mouth with a tiny jolt. I found myself going back for more and more because they were so poppable.

The first course, a smoked fig salad with Canewater Farms candied peppers and fresh watermelon atop a manchego cheese crisp was like nothing I have ever tasted. The figs had a whisper of smoky flavor, just enough to cut through the sweetness. The manchego crisp gave the dish a deeply nutty profile, and the watermelon freshened everything up.

This was a first course that I could eat again and again. The pairing, Brotte Rosé Cotes de Rhone, was the perfect accompaniment to complement the sweetness of the fig and watermelon, “Rome valley is where this rosé comes from…and is a blend of Grenache and Syrah,” Matt told the table before we devoured the first pairing.

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Smith Brothers owners Robert and Brenda Anderson were present and welcomed everyone as the meal started. Robert introduced Canewater Farms’ co-owner Rafe Rivers who explained that they “farm about twenty acres of vegetables over in Darien, Georgia. We are certified organic and we grow vegetables for about 50 restaurants.”

The second course, a play on surf and turf, was a perfect summer dish for any dinner party. Grassroots Farm pork belly and pan seared sea scallops were presented atop a bed of vibrant summer sweet corn puree.

The corn reminded me of the creamed corn that many Southern mothers make, creamed not by the addition of cream but by scraping the husks to extract the corn’s natural milk. The scallops were prepared the way every local loves them — crusted with a tender center — and the pork belly was rendered ideally.

For the third and main event, a massive slab of slowly roasted pork loin supplied by Grassroots was presented with velvety polenta from Canewater, grilled peaches, and basil butter. Chef Spain, in a way that I am certain was magic, rendered the fat and skin of the pork in a masterful way creating the crunchiest crust while maintaining a succulent fork-tender center.

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The polenta was most surprising, and had a flavor similar to that of peach pie from the addition of vibrant summer stone fruit. The rosé, Le Rocher Des Violettes Rosé, accompanying the pork was much darker than the rest due to ratio of red wine used in the blend, ideal to stand up to an exuberant main course such as luscious swine.

Though I am certain no one at the table saved room to eat dessert, hesitation was quickly relinquished after everyone tasted how delicious the “stuffed french toast” was. Two slices of buttery lemon pound cake were prepared using the method you would apply to french toast, and stuffed with blackberry compote and rose macerated cherries. Plopped on top, a semi-savory herbed cream, Chef Spain’s way to cut through the classically bold cake.

The pairing of port, made from a rose to with the theme, was just as spectacular as the final course itself. Matt explained he picked a port from Portugal, Quinta Do Tedo Rosé Port, that is made from “red wine grapes fortified with brandy, and aged for only six months.”

I plan on returning for as many of these suppers as I can, and if you would like to join me at one of their future supper clubs, Smith Brother’s emails the details with their mailing list.

Original article is here.

Savannah Spirits Chop House

Savannah Spirits Chop House

Classics renewed, from the menu to the building, is the best way to describe Savannah Spirits Chop House.

Upon stepping into the massive building that sits on the corner of Whitaker and West State streets, you will notice original Savannah Grey brickwork, art deco inspired fixtures, and wood that has been refurbished and repurposed from the old buildings.

I say “buildings,” because the restaurant and distillery of Savannah Spirits comprises four separate structures that initially, built around 1860, housed several different businesses.

The first two floors hold seating for hungry patrons. The first floor is where the main kitchen can be found along the with distillery. On the second floor is a private dining area and an upscale whiskey bar. The top floor, complete with its own balcony, will be a site for private events.

Executive Chef Peter Schott is the brain behind the menu, which can only be described as a modern approach to chop house classics. Do not expect to dine at the Chop House and get tired, boiled shrimp cocktail sitting atop a martini glass of bottled cocktail sauce, or a butter drowned steak plopped beside a foiled over-baked potato and some runny creamed spinach, which everyone has probably experienced.

Chef Schott’s menu starts innovative and fresh and ends similarly—a product of the fact that he “has been cooking for over thirty years,” he explains.

He has cooked in a wide array of kitchens including Savannah Quarters, the First City Club, and even owned his own restaurant in New York.

The shrimp cocktail you’ll enjoy is inspired by the Chef’s love of Hispanic cuisine. He says he is “really into tacos,” and a nod to this love is obvious in the style of shrimp cocktail he created.

Dubbed the Baja Style Shrimp Cocktail, the starter arrives at your table bright and bold in both flavor and appearance. Giant sweet coastal shrimp are coated and cooked in a special sauce and served atop bright avocado mash and cilantro with a melody of pickled red onion, fresh jalapenos, radish, and cucumber.

This dish has everything you could want, crunch, creaminess, spice, sweetness, tang, and all of the fresh flavors of the vegetables.

Just like the shrimp cocktail, the Tuna Tartare is nothing close to a boring. For his rendition, Chef Schott says he “played with the flavors of borscht,” which is apparent in the use of beetroot and hard boiled eggs.

The beets were selected as the co-star to the tuna because they can stand up to the rich meaty fish, and in-fact become the star of the dish. Cooked down, removing all of the earthy notes, the beets are tender and melt away in you mouth in an identical manner as the delicate raw fish, making the two almost indistinguishable.

The starter is tossed in light horseradish creme fraiche that coats your palate with just enough fat without overpowering anything else. To finish the dish, a sprinkling of grated egg and dill.

The Lamb Meatballs offer a heartier starter than the two counterparts mentioned above. The plateful is served artfully arranged with an array of accompaniments that almost resemble a Pollock painting, almost—and I mean almost—too pretty to eat.

Your fork will glide through the delicate lamb meatballs before loading it up with the layers of punchy pesto, crispy cabbage, aromatic almonds, earthy eggplant, golden raisins, and a ton more. Although there are more ingredients than I can include each one works in harmony with the other, not overpowering the last.

For one of the mains, Chef Schott has included a meatier fish that can take just as much as a leading role as a steak. The Grilled Atlantic Swordfish Fillet looks picturesque, served with grill marks created by Chop House’s six-foot woodfire grill, which I’m told by Chef Schott “is the anchor of the kitchen” and menu.

Chef Schott’s current use of wood with the grill is “red oak” because it a “good burning” wood, meaning that it burns slower than most.

Plated next to the fish is a side that is influenced by caponata, a Sicilian eggplant dish comprised of a cooked vegetable salad. The swordfish itself is juicy, with a tickle of smoke, but is only boosted by the complex and deep flavors of the caponata which brings a warm homey feel to the entree.

The final touch, which you would expect from a seasoned chef, is a grilled half of a lemon, the addition of which brings brightness to slice through the warmth.

Chef Schott’s approach to steak is awe-inspiring with a lack of dilution and a textbook preparation. It says a lot about a Chef (and a restaurant) willing to serve their steak with very little to accompany it on the plate.

Out of all of the  beef, I tried the Prime Center Cut Filet, but as you can imagine, the Chop House has plenty of beef options to satisfy your taste. Simply prepared, which is bold for any chef, the filet is salt and peppered with a thoughtful hand, seared exquisitely on the woodfire grill, and finished with a careful amount of herb butter.

The wood fire adds a whisper of smoke and a textbook charred crust while keeping the center of the steak delicate and tender. Plated with the steak, a lightly charred onion and tomato, both acting to balance any fat the steak presents.

Of course, if you want more food to go with your steak, the restaurant offers plenty of delectable options as side items.

Chef Schott puts it perfectly: “The food is a lot more than just steaks, it is more about clean crisp flavors.”

Which means you will come in for a steak and be pleased to discover the depth and complexity of Chef Schott and Chop House’s menu.

The original article can be found Here.

Vedette Creperie

Vedette Creperie

Savannah is known for its beautiful squares that are surrounded with historic homes and filled with moss-laden, low-hanging trees.

Much credit for Savannah’s growth and continuing beauty can be attributed to the Savannah College of Art and Design, and the college’s efforts to preserve and restore many buildings within the Historic District.

Now the same thing can be said for the ever changing culinary scene in Savannah. SCAD not only renewed many buildings that can be found all over the city, but the school has also opened five culinary shops around town.

As part of their efforts, SCAD has opened Vedette Creperie and Sweets within the Lucas Theatre. Vedette is Savannah’s newest crepe and baked good shop that serves patrons of both the Lucas and all of Savannah alike. You can grab a quick crepe and drink to enjoy as you enjoy the Lucas’s latest offering, or pop in just for a crepe itself.

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First on the menu you will find Vedette’s sweet crepes, and at the very top of the list is the Red Velvet Cake Crepe. Upon reading the menu, I imagined the crepe batter itself to be red and made to taste like red velvet.

Vedette outsmarted me, and when the crepe arrived at the table I was delightfully surprised to find that instead they layer the crepe with fresh moist crumbles of actual red velvet cake, mascarpone cheese, and chocolate chips.

The red velvet cake is baked specifically for their special crepe. The mascarpone cheese keeps the dish lighter than its traditional counterpart, cream cheese, while the chocolate chips add the perfect crunchy texture.

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As for the star of the dish, the cake, it is light and moist, just like your mom makes it.
Beyond the decadent fillings, the size of Vedette’s crepes truly sets them apart. I would consider theirs to be two to three times larger than your average crepe, and to accommodate their size the store has a special paper holder for taking the crepe with you and eating it on the go.

Vedette also offers kid size crepes which “are smaller and slightly easier to hold,” says Director of Auxiliary Services Lauren Bell.

Next on the menu you will find the Bananas Foster Crepe, which tasted even better than you can imagine. Banana bread pudding and fresh bananas are piled inside of this crepe.

For the crunch factor, banana chips are added to the top along with whipped cream and a sticky rum sauce. The mixture of fresh, dried, and bread pudding bananas contribute a deep banana flavor to the dish without overpowering the palate.

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The Blueberry Lemon Crepe features classic flavors of summer dessert, lemon curd and fresh blueberries. Ricotta is the cheese of choice to fill this sweet treat, which is a mild flavored cheese that adds a creamy airy balance to a the tangy lemon curd.

Just like most everything featured on their menu, the lemon curd is made from scratch and not poured from a can. The blueberry lemon crepe has been their “most popular just because it is great for summer, it is light and fresh. If you like lemon it is the right amount of tart,” Lauren explains.

My favorite of the bunch was the Italian Crepe, and no, it does not come stuffed full of meats like you’d find in an Italian sub — it’s much better than that.

Layered inside the delicate crepe is salty sweet prosciutto ham, nutty tangy manchego cheese, bright yet sweet fig jam, and spicy fresh arugula.

To finish the dish is a dark sticky drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette. Manchego cheese, my favorite cheese, is Spanish cheese made from sheep’s milk.

Like I said, this version trumps a typical Italian sub by using elevated ingredients to create a more adult version. As you cut into the crepe, or just pick it up and bite it, the fig jam immediately oozes out.
Next your tongue is coated in the salty flavor of pork before being washed away with the bright peppery flavor of the arugula and warm melted manchego. As for the balsamic, it adds just the right amount of tang.

If you are looking for a crepe that is a bit more classic, the Croque-Monsieur should be your go-to. For Vedette’s version, they stuff their oversized crepe with ham, bechamel, Gruyere, and arugula.

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The opposite of classic is the Banh Mi Crepe, which takes inspiration from the spicy Vietnamese sandwich. Traditionally a banh mi is layered with pork or chicken, pickled vegetables, cucumbers, and a spicy mayonnaise, all atop a sliced crunchy baguette.

Vedette gets rid of the clunky french bread and layers their crepe version of the Vietnamese sandwich with fresh, tender shrimp, making the entire dish feel light — perfect for a summer lunch in our Savannah summer heat.

Other unique savory crepe creations you will find available is the Mediterranean crepe with hummus, red pepper, cucumber, and feta, and the Korean BBQ jammed with pulled pork and pickled vegetables. Both of which I will be back to try.

Vedette’s menu is not limited to crepes, as of a few weeks ago the store began offering fresh smoothies.
“The yellow smoothie is President Wallace’s favorite” smoothie, I am told by Lauren. She explains that SCAD President Paula Wallace has come into each restaurant operated by SCAD to taste the dishes.

In the store you will also find an assortment of delicate baked goods made in-house at their sister store, Gryphon Tea Room. Also available is an assortment of fresh hot brewed coffee drinks, because what goes better with dessert than coffee?

The menu changes with the seasons, and “has something for every part of your day,” Lauren says. You can come in for a morning coffee or smoothie, stop by for a light savory lunch crepe, and finish your day with a sweet unique crepe.

My original article can be found here.