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.

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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.

Service Brewery

Service Brewery

THE FIRST THING I loved when I moved to Savannah a few years ago is that most locals like to enjoy a cold one, especially after a stereotypically hot day.

So, it was no surprise that Serving Brewing Company was a quick and long term success, especially after sipping down any of their thoughtfully crafted beers.

The story of Service Brewing began in 2012 when a local SCAD graduate, Meredith Sutton, gifted former Army commander and Iraq veteran Kevin Ryan a home brewing kit. A short two years later, they expanded their love affair to a partnership and a love affair with beer, opening Savannah’s Service Brewing Company.

Meredith focuses on events, branding, and marketing, while Kevin handles logistics, operations, and recipes, but each also focuses on giving back to our community and veterans.

Year round the brewery sells their Ground Pounder India Pale Ale, or IPA, Compass Rose IPA, Rally Point Bohemian Style Pilsner, Scouts Out Honey Saison, and Battlewagon Double IPA.

The Compass Rose IPA is their “best selling year around beer on the market,” says Kevin.
To create the signature India Pale Ale Service brews each batch with grapefruit, pear, passion fruit, and orange. Although the addition of fruit adds a touch of sweetness, the beer is extremely aromatic and balanced by both the hops and tangy kick of citrus. Out of all of Service’s IPAs, the Compass Rose is Kevin’s go-to IPA.

Rally Point, a session beer, is a great beer for drinking “year round…chefs love Rally Point after being in a hot kitchen all night. At the end of the day, that is what they want,” Meredith explains when I ask for a summer beer recommendation.

The lower alcohol level and light refreshing flavor make it a perfect beer for sipping while enduring the sweltering Savannah summer heat. Rally Point Pilsner has become

Kevin’s favorite beer “is always the most recent beer [they’ve] brewed” because the brewery has a rotation of seasonal and limited release beers.

On tap for the limited releases list when I visited was the Gun Bunny Witbier, the Savannah Bananas Cerveza, the Old Guard Biere de Garde, and an Imperial Raspberry Blonde.

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“Gun Bunny is a witbier that has Indian coriander seed, cardamom, tangelo peel, and mandarin orange, which is the reason it is summer seasonal,” Kevin tells me while explaining how light and refreshing the beer is.
While I sat at the bar of the tasting room chatting with Mike, I tasted (or gulped down) one of their research and developing beers — the Cafe Macchiato Porter. The porter was rich in chocolate flavor with ideal amount of roasted espresso, and although created with deep decadent flavors, the beer was not heavy at all.

Service Brewery creates small batches — dubbed their research-and-development beers — taking inspiration from anywhere to create new and unique beers. This process allows the brewery to fine tune their process while offering exciting new things to the locals, but the beers are only available in the Taphouse.
One of their research and development beers brewed every year for the Ossabaw Island Pig Roast is the Ossabaw IPA. To create the beer, Yaupon holly from the Asia tea company is used in the brew, and the proceeds of the beer sales are donated to Ossabaw Island Foundation.

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To celebrate their fourth year as a thriving local business, Service brewed a special batch of IPA that will be available at their Anniversary party this coming Saturday, July 21st.

I was lucky enough to try the Imperial Milkshake India Pale Ale after it was poured straight from the tank, and let me tell you that I have never felt cooler or more honored in my life. The hospitality of Kevin and Meredith was a perfect reflection of the way they run their business and treat their guests.

The special brew is a beautiful, milky, glowing shade of light amber, and the milky part is important. A growing movement in the brewing community is the milkshake style IPA which lends a cloudier, but not in a bad way, type of brew unlike the traditional clearer IPA. The result is a full bodied mouthfeel and a reduction in the hoppy bite that many IPAs have.

Milkshake IPAs are not only characterized by their hazy appearance but also the addition of fruit or vanilla. For their version, Service went with fruit and honey — not just any honey, but Savannah’s loved and local honey from Savannah Bee Company. The choice in fruit, perfect for summertime, was passionfruit.

The fragrance is sweet, and when drinking it your mouth fills with the creamy flavor of passion fruit, next comes the honey, and the finish is a slight kick of hops. The beer is one that goes down as easily as juice, but be careful because it boats an alcohol content of ten percent.

If you do not catch the delicious hazy IPA at Service’s anniversary celebration, you can find it around town, like many of their limited releases, canned and available to purchase.

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The beer can containing the beer is as unique as the beer itself and will feature original art created by local artist, and friend to Kevin and Meredith, Will Penny.

This year, the anniversary party will be free of an entry cost and will kick off July 21st at noon. Not only can you drink as many Imperial Milkshake IPA’s as you can stand, literally, but the party will include music, food, and more.
The first part of the day will feature food from Chazito’s Latin Cuisine and music from DJ Jose Ray. As the day goes on musical guests the Hypnotics and CUSSES will play, and Big Bon will be there to fill your bellies. I hope to see everyone there.

Original Article can be found here.

The “Art of” Salon at Andaz Savannah and 22 Square

The “Art of” Salon at Andaz Savannah and 22 Square

THE ANDAZ Hotel and its featured restaurant, 22 Square, are not newbies to the local culinary scene. In fact, when I moved to Savannah a few years ago, 22 Square played a part in making my transition a bit easier.

It was one of the first restaurants I visited as a newly dubbed local, and it reminded me of some of the restaurants I adored and missed from home.

Savannah’s Andaz Hotel is not the only branch of the company’s hotel chain, and as part of the boutique hotels’ local flair, they host a Salon event to feature and partner with local members of the community.

The aim of each Salon, usually held quarterly, is to showcase local artists, chefs, photographers, and the like to the public. The Salon is free, open to everyone and anyone, and features interactive stations with each featured local.

For the latest Salon held at our local Andaz on June 28, the hotel showcased people from within the store. Sarah Menard, the director of sales, events, and marketing, told me that “instead of looking outside of Andaz Savannah [they] decided to partner with [their] colleagues that each have a very special talent.”

The Salon was dubbed the Art Of, and would feature demonstrations and talks from each artist.

The featured cocktail was inspired by a classic Pimm’s Cup, a Pimm’s liqueur-based cocktail made with ginger beer, cucumber, and citrus. For their version, the 1970 Cup, 22 Square featured locally made vodka from Savannah distillery 1970.

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Ikeda Feingold is the creator of Savannah’s 1970 vodka which includes nineteen different fruits, herbs, and botanicals. Jane Fishel, beverage supervisor at 22 Square, worked with Feingold “developing cocktails that highlight all nineteen of the botanicals and fruit that [1970] is infused with.”

For the cocktail at 22 Square, she said that they use “1970, fresh cucumber juice, and our house-made ginger beer, along with mint and lemon.” The idea behind the Salon’s signature cocktail was to feature a slightly reimagined classic.

The overall flavor of the cocktail was light and refreshing, one that would be easy to slurp down quickly while sitting on a porch on a hot southern summer day (or cruising the squares downtown on foot). Each ingredient worked together, the last not overpowering the next.

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Two main dishes were featured by Executive Chef Chris Cummer: smoked scallops and a quinoa salad. The inspiration for his menu was to be “refreshing, piquant, flavorful, and light — perfect for the dog days of summer,” Chef told me. After tasting the dishes I understood exactly what Chef Cummer was referring to.
The smoked scallop was the perfect bite of light yet briny seafood. To smoke the scallops, the chef uses alder wood, characterized by a light and sweet flavor that pairs well with seafood, and cold smokes them for approximately ten minutes.

At the Salon, Chef Cummer demonstrated the smoking technique as his feature. To finish the scallops Chef seared to give them crispy golden brown crust before being topped with avocado, Thai basil, candied bacon, and a sliver of Serrano pepper.

Naturally scallops are a seafood that have a buttery sweetness, the addition of avocado amplified the buttery notes of the scallop. Similarly, the candied bacon, both sweet and smoky, boost the same flavor profiles of the smoked scallop. The Thai basil brightened the dish, while the pepper cut through the fat so your palate was not overwhelmed by the full flavors of the beautifully composed dish.

For normal dinner service, the scallop is served under a smoked glass. Recommended pairing is a French 75, poured tableside into the glass used for smoking. Drinking the cocktail from the glass used to smoke and serve the scallop allows the connoisseur to take in the effervescence of the wood as the drink is enjoyed.
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Chef Cummer has his own garden on the roof of the Andaz, and I was lucky enough to receive a tour. As to be expected, some ingredients featured in the dish were grown in that very rooftop garden; specifically, the Thai basil and Serrano peppers.

A complete juxtaposition to the seafood symphony was the featured quinoa salad, and in no way was this salad something you would imagine being forced to eat to comply with your summer diet. The quinoa, which was prepared perfectly tender yet firm, was encased with a rose vinaigrette and tossed together almonds, blackberries, wilted greens, and pickled green strawberries.

Overall, the flavor was nutty, sweet, and tangy, all while being light yet hearty —a perfectly balanced dish to be expected considering Chef Cummer’s feature included a talk on balancing cuisine. The 1970 Cup, due to its refreshing profile, paired perfectly with both dishes.

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Local artist Jordan Smith, who also works at 22 Square, painted a unique piece of art as his portion of the Salon, the Art of Painting. The art included the three wise monkeys, a common theme that can be found throughout the rooms of the Andaz Savannah.

Smith also had small canvas and supplies for attendees to participate. If you are ever in the hotel you can see many of Jordan Smith’s original works hanging in the lobby and near the restaurant.

Tracy Scarlatti, a host at the front desk, presented the Art of Photography, not only taking photos of the event but giving guests tips on photography.

The Art of Florals was hosted by Ana Duggar, who assists in the banquet department, which not only discussed techniques for making a floral bouquets, but allowed guests to participate. Many attendees made their own flower crowns to wear throughout the event and take home.

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Through the year you can expect new and exciting Salons at the Andaz Savannah because there is no better way to bring a community together than through good food and drinks.

Tybee’s Salt Island Fish & Beer

Tybee’s Salt Island Fish & Beer

Many believe the original inhabitants of Tybee Island were the Euchee tribe. According to legend, their word for “salt” was tybee.

“Salt Island literally means Tybee Island,” Emily Liebtag, co-owner of Tybee Island’s newest restaurant, Salt Island Fish & Beer, tells me as we sit at the newly renovated bar chatting.

She explains that with the name of the restaurant she and her husband, Chef and co-owner Eric Liebtag, “wanted to pay homage to what came before, and show people they care about the island.”

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As for the second portion of the name Fish and Beer, the aim was to cue patrons that the restaurant strives to feature as much local fish and beer as absolutely possible.

On the local side of the beer list, Salt Island offers various craft beers from Savannah’s loved Service Brewery and Coastal Empire Brewery. Other semi-local beers include options from Sweetwater Brewing, Jekyll Brewing, and Oconee Brewing.

The cocktail list is even more impressive and was created by Chef Eric, who “has been running restaurants for over 20 years; he even went to culinary school in London,” Emily says. IMG_7131

Crosby, the assistant manager and bartender, recommends the Ginger & Mary Ann. The cocktail features three different types of rum and is created by shaking pineapple juice with the rum “until the juice gets frothy,” he explained.

Crosby also tells me about the Tybee Island Handshake, a two-fer of a Mexican beer with a shot of tequila, that is on the regular menu but is also part of Salt Island’s happy hour. In addition to a regular happy hour, the store plans on hosting a “reverse happy hour that lasts from 10-11 p.m.,” Crosby elaborates as I sample UFO’s Georgia Peach. Beer such as this one, made specifically for Georgia distribution, is what makes Salt Island’s beer offerings so unique.

When it comes to their food, the Elote was one of the best things I sampled from the menu. Elote is street food that traditionally encompasses fire-roasted corn on the cob smothered with a variation toppings including butter, mayonnaise, lime juice, chili powder, and cheese.

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For this version, Chef Eric takes the corn off of the cob, making it much easier to eat, and puts a char on the ears before mixing them with mayonnaise, cotija cheese, and fresh cilantro.

Overall the flavor is nutty from the crumbled cotija, but your tongue is quickly bombarded with the smoky flavor of grilled corn before the smooth finish of a creamy and peppery heat.

In ordering the Elote, you have the option to add shrimp. Do it. The skewered shrimp that are served resting atop the bowl of creamy corn are perfectly charred and slathered in fresh herbs.

Cooked perfectly, the shrimp add a buttery sweetness to the already flawless dish.

I have mentioned it before in a past article, but I would not consider myself a big fan of crab cakes. It is so easy to over mix, overfill, or under-cook the delicate dish.

So many chefs skimp on the portion of crab by using every filler ingredient under the sun, which is a shame when the title of the dish cues the eater that the flavor of crab should be front and center.

Chef Eric has done none of those things; instead he challenges himself everyday by hand-picking blue crab meat fresh from the shell to create his flavorful rendition of crab cakes.IMG_7218

Chef Eric “really loves the crab cakes,” and focuses on making them a good as by preparing them fresh everyday “with just jumbo lump crab and not filler, just seasoning.”

Because Emily is from Michigan, the menu pays homage to a nostalgic ingredient, smelt. And although Savannah is a fish and seafood adoring town, many people have never tasted the midwestern delicacy.

Smelt are small in size making them perfect for frying to eat whole. Salt Island’s version pays respect to the fish by serving them fried to a crisp with a side of lemon caper aioli; a perfect fatty yet acidic sauce to equalize the snack.

Emily excitedly explains that many of the items on the menu are labeled as snacks because, “so much of the menu is built to be shareable or as snacks.”

Another midwestern classic included as a snack on the menu is the Smoked Fish Dish. But unlike the midwestern version that traditionally features white fish, Chef Eric uses a fresh local catch: mullet.

To create the dish, Chef Eric first brines the fish and finishes it by smoking it in-house for approximately four hours. On the side comes fresh fried chips that he tops himself with malt vinegar.

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Chef Eric elaborates that he likes “to have fun with food, and has been playing around a lot with beer cheese,” a key ingredient in his hush puppies.

The Beer Cheese Hush Puppies come jammed full of the beer cheese made using Cooter brown ale combined with sharp cheddar and pepper jack.

On the side, to balance the bold and savory hush puppies, a sweet and acidic tomato bacon jam is served.

Once Emily and Eric get a bit more settled — considering that before moving to Savannah last year they traveled across the country while Eric opened up various restaurants — they plan on hosting a ton of exciting events at the restaurant.

Saturday and Sunday brunch is one option, as well as Tiki Tuesday with service of traditional Tiki Cocktails and a someone behind the bar spinning records.

Yoshi’s Kitchen, Savannah’s Newest Food Truck

Yoshi’s Kitchen, Savannah’s Newest Food Truck

There’s a new kid on the block, but the restaurant behind it, Sushi Zen, is anything but new to Savannah locals.

This Savannah staple that locals have loved for years is now part of the city’s recent food truck scene. The man behind new food truck Yoshi’s Kitchen is Chef Takami Yoshimoto, son of Sushi Zen’s owner.

He also goes by TJ. As for the name of the truck, TJ wanted to honor his father and family by naming it after him: Yoshi.

TJ’s career started with culinary school in Austin, Texas, followed by an externship at famous Chef Morimoto’s restaurant in Disney Springs, Florida. However, “He had to come back home to help with the family, and that’s around the same time they found a truck,” TJ tells me as he details this culinary adventure.

After falling in love with food trucks in Austin, TJ was excited when Savannah opened up for food truck entrepreneurs. What he really wants is “for Savannah to see the potential in food trucks because they can bring a community together.”

I tried the Donburi Fried Shrimp Rice Bowl, the most popular bowl. After devouring it, I understood why.

Most Savannahians love shrimp, especially if they are fried. The coastal shrimp featured in this bowl are not just any old fried crustaceans, but are encased in a light and airy tempura batter. The bowl is layered with tender steamed white rice, lightly caramelized onions, crunchy carrots, roasted broccoli, and a sprinkling of vibrant saffron.

To finish the bowl TJ drizzles teriyaki sauce and shrimp sauce, the two sauces that are probably every Savannahian’s favorite addition to an Asian dish. The meal has a bit of everything with each item working in harmony with the last.

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Other options for the bowl include steak, slow braised pork belly, and — the option I will be going back to try — Japanese fried chicken. I have encountered Korean fried chicken but never Japanese.

When I ask TJ what Japanese fried chicken means, he explains, “it is called the karaage fried chicken..we basically velvetize the chicken by marinating in egg whites, saki, ginger, and garlic to make it tender…the frying process is just flour and cornstarch.”

As for the sauce, because Southerners love a good sauce to go with their fried chicken, it is covered in teriyaki. Japanese fried chicken “is kind of our bar food…you would get that at a bar with a side of beer,” TJ elaborates.

The coolest part: Yoshi’s is the only place in Savannah you can get the extremely unique and out of this world fried chicken.

The steak option is prepared in the style of yakiniku beef, which means Japanese style grilled beef. It is tender sweet and smokey and served with a slathering of delicious sauce. This bowl is perfect for those customers that want something that taste familiar but with a flavorful twist.

As for the pork belly, it is TJ’s personal favorite because it takes him “eight hours to braise it with a lot of love and sweat.”

To braise the pork, TJ uses their house sauce, an amped up sauce with a teriyaki base. TJ let me in on the coolest part about his teriyaki base: ‘We continue to use the same base…we bring [extra base] up to 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill of any bacteria, and then we use it for the next batch.”

He explains that the technique of never starting from scratch with a sauce is a one that is often used in Japan. This seems to be the Japanese equivalent of saving the pickle juice from the last jar here in the South.

Slightly on the more traditional side are the pork potstickers. As for the flavor, it is anything but traditional. The shell is pan fried every single side, unlike many potstickers that can often be chewy due to searing on one portion of the wrapper.

Texturally, the crunch is through and through until your tongue hits the succulent pork filling. As you eat each flavor packed wanton, the first taste that hits your tongue is fresh ginger, followed by salty, juicy pork. The sauce for this dish is classic soy and scallion dipping sauce that is commonly paired with potstickers.

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If you are not too full, order the Tempura Cheesecake for dessert, which could only be described as a play on textures and sensations. TJ takes a slice of cheesecake, batters it in tempura, fries it, smothers it in a matcha chocolate sauce, and plops on fresh whipped cream. Encasing the creamy silky traditional vanilla cheesecake is an delicate and airy coating of tempura.

As you cut into the slice, the cream cheese oozes out of the casing and as it hits your tongue it feels like you are eating a cloud. Somehow TJ elevates fried cheesecake (what you would imagine to be a heavy dessert) to a level of brightness that I would have never thought possible.

I could spend the rest of this article discussing the options at Yoshi’s, because the menu is not limited to only a few, select things. TJ has changed the menu “up to three times per week.”

The idea behind the food truck is the ability to feature different options. Recently the menu has even included tacos jammed with oysters, crab, or shrimp. TJ even hopes to bring sushi to Savannah via his mobile meal wheels.

When Yoshi’s is not servicing events or popping around town you can find the truck stationed at Daffin Park, “starting July 1, through the year,” TJ tells me, because Yoshi’s Kitchen was of the lucky trucks to gain a consistent spot to park through Savannah’s food truck lottery.

Original article here.

Roy’s Nutz and Buttz

Roy’s Nutz and Buttz

If there is one type of cuisine that really hits home for me, it is BBQ. I grew up in a small town outside of Atlanta where barbecue joints were as concentrated as the traffic on I-85 every afternoon at 5 p.m.

So when I relocated to the Lowcountry a few short years ago, I was disappointed at the relative lack of available barbecue restaurants.

Thankfully, our city finally wised up and passed ordinances allowing food trucks to begin operation within Savannah. With the change, one of Savannah’s most popular food trucks Owners Roy and Mandy Chambliss both had nine-to-five jobs before they took the leap to crank up their wheeled walk-up.

Just as much experience as they both have in the business world, they have even more when it comes to barbecue.

The story of this American dream truly began when Roy learned to barbecue about 20 years ago, while coaching his son’s travel baseball games. According to Roy, the barbecue was an effort “to raise money” for the team, and he learned by purchasing “a little grill from Sam’s and burning a lot of meat”. Now he has a professional smoking rig that can feed at least two-thousand people per day.

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Roy’s choice in wood is pecan and red oak because “[the oak smokes] hotter while [the pecan] gives the meat a sweet taste,” he explained as I peppered him with questions while attempting to learn the process.

Roy went on to explain that for the pork, he cooks it “for at least twelve hours per butt,” and he smokes the protein for four hours before wrapping it to prevent oversmoking.

Roy’s Nutz & Butts offers your traditional smoked barbecue meats and a few unique entrees. and barbecue stops, Roy’s Nutz & Buttz, was born.

Let’s start with the Chicken Bomb, a chicken sandwich like no other. Dishes like this are the reason I love to visit and review more relatable restaurants. Though popular in many newer places, it is special to see a mom-and-pop that offers new and unique takes on classic dishes.

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The base of this sandwich is a slow smoked piece of chicken coated in buffalo sauce and layered with a mound of gooey house-smoked (obviously) buffalo chicken dip, smoked crispy thick cut bacon, and a torrential downpour of creamy ranch.

Commonly buffalo chicken sandwiches feature fried chicken, but I prefer the smoked chicken because it retains much more moisture and flavor. The bacon acts as the crunchy element, in lieu of breading. And if crunchy bacon is your thing, this smoked bacon is colossally crispy.

Another extremely unique offering is the Gonzo dog. Though of course smoked (I would expect nothing less from Pitmaster Roy), the dog’s twist comes with a stuffing of cheese before being encased in bacon.

Yes, the same crispy crunchy bacon described above. Smoking the hotdog allows the bacon to properly render its fat and crisp up, which often doesn’t happen with bacon wrapped meat. After your teeth pierce the guarding layer of bacon and through the juicy meat itself, your mouth is flooded with melted creamy sharp cheese.

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The burger is smoked as well, and be warned once you taste a smoked hamburger you will never want it cooked any other way. Smoking the beef allows the burger to be cooked through without becoming dry or making the meat tough. You get the flavor of a traditional American cheeseburger alongside a whisper of smoked meat.

As for the side items, every single one of them are so delicious they could be featured as main. Roy’s Brunswick Stew is award winning; it placed second in the professional category and third for the People’s’ Choice award of the 2018 Brunswick Stewbilee competition.

Want to know why? Roy’s is the only restaurant around town using brisket in their stew. Traditionally the stew includes pork and sometimes chicken, but Roy included all three smoked meats. The recipe also excludes potatoes, a filler for the stew traditionally used to stretch the amount it will serve.

The baked beans are not overly sweet. Instead they are balanced by Mandy’s addition of chili sauce. Cooked down with the beans you will find green peppers, which add a touch of brightness to the Southern staple. The combination of the two additions give these beans an overall peppery flavor with the finish of a hint of the traditional sweetness.

The Macaroni and Cheese is made the way that I prefer, creamy and not baked with an egg like many southern versions of the side. The flavor of cheese is deep, due to the use of sharp American, Monterey Jack, and Colby. Distributed about you will find a sea of cracked black pepper, a perfect touch to cut through the richness of three cheeses.

Let’s not forget about the barbecue sauce. Besides the actual smoked meat this may be the most important offering. The idea for Roy’s signature sauce, a Honey Jalapeño Barbecue Sauce, surfaced when he was sampling barbecue at a local joint in Arizona.

After returning to Savannah, he spent a little bit of time attempting to recreate the sauce before perfecting his own. The sauce “is probably their most popular” and is made with a purée of fresh jalapeños.

For the people that think it the honey jalapeno barbecue sauce is too spicy, Roy, made a hickory salve and as he was doing a lot of jobs in South Carolina, “everybody asked [them] for a mustard based one, so that is what I did,” Roy explained as he told me about his other two barbecue sauce creations.

The mustard version is reminiscent of a smokey spicy honey mustard, while the hickory is closer to a traditional barbecue sauce without so much sweetness.

The menu is only going to get larger, and Roy and Mandy have been working on a brick-and-mortar sit-down featuring a large menu and new creations. Their quick success is due to love of the food, each other, and serving people.

As Mandy put it, she “has the most amazing job in the world.”

Original Article: Here

Review: Akedo

Review: Akedo

A BIG CITY with a small town feel is how I describe Savannah. The growth of Savannah is as steady as the shipping containers flowing in and out of our port.
The accompanying upswing in the local food scene has brought Savannah’s first authentic ramen bar as of last week.
Akedo Ramen Bar business partner Brad Syfan hit the nail on the head when I asked, “Why bring a legitimate ramen shop to this seafood-driven town?”
His response: “Well-executed ramen is something you find in major cities across the country but has not really been singled out as something to get excited about in Savannah. We hope to change that.”

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The menu features three types of house ramen: vegan, pork, and chicken (and also the option to create your own bowl). Every broth used by the restaurant takes at least a day to make.
Chef Thomas Bishop explained at the modern yet quaint counter that the process took “from break down….to service,” which makes the food served truly a “labor of love.”
For those of you that have never tasted ramen, it is a distant cousin to pho, but with heartier flavors and more featured ingredients. The best way to attack in order to avoid wearing the broth on your face, is to take the duck spoon that comes on the side and, using your chopsticks, you fill it up with a piece of each item floating in the broth.
Once full, you dunk the spoon in the broth to gather up as much umami juice as you can.
I would also recommend pairing one of the five different sakes or three different beers with your meal—as if the bowl of brothy deliciousness was not already going to warm your belly enough. Truly any choice you make will pair perfectly as a cold accompaniment to the comforting meal.
The Vegan Miso begins with the creamiest miso broth I have ever slurped up, making the broth much lighter in color than most miso broths. The bowl is layered with a heavy hand with ramen noodles, chunked tofu, bok choy, bamboo shoots, and shiitake mushrooms, each ingredient more tender than the last.

Even though this is a vegan dish, you will not miss the meat at all. The miso broth is so hearty that the texture is reminiscent of a peanut butter sauce, and the noodles are hearty as well, thick yet delicate with an umptious chew.

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The tofu easily dissolves on your tongue, and the roasted mushrooms add a meatiness to the dish. Finally, the bok choy brings a much needed brightness to the cozy dish.
Chef Bishop explained that the store is currently “making the ramen noodles in house… and going forward would like to make all of the noodles served.” As for the ramen noodles, “they are vegan…made with just water and flour.”
Next on the list of house bowls is the “classic ramen,” says Brad, or Pork Tonkostsu, which traditionally features ramen broth that is created using pork bones, among other things, and served with pork belly, also known as Chasu.

Akedo’s version comes with all the required authentic items—a soft boiled egg, shiitake mushrooms, mayu oil, and those same hearty ramen noodles I mentioned before. This dish has a bit more kick, which is surely welcome with Asian cuisine, and overall tastes deeply of umami with a subdue flavor of salt. The shiitake mushrooms bring earthiness to the bowl, and the drizzle of mayu oil and black garlic oil add a hint of smoky garlic flavor.
Chicken Soyu is the third and final house bowl. Soyu stands for the Soyu (or soy) broth that could be considered the leading lady in this dish. The star itself, the ultra-tender chicken that would taste just as delicious on its own. Paired with the deeply savory soy broth and delicate bird is shiitake, ramen noodles, bok choy, and an egg.

The Build Your Own features many items that are not included in the three house bowls. My favorite, the kimchi made by the Chefs at Akedo, is for those who truly feel as though they are setting out to create their own masterpiece. Be careful though — there are so many choices it would be easy to over-select.

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In addition to the house-made ramen noodles, the restaurant also offers Udon and Vermicelli noodles. Vermicelli is for those who prefer skinnier noodles, as compared to the robust traditional udon or ramen options.

Power ups, or add-ins, are available in personalizing your soul warming bowl. Togarashi, a Japanese red chili pepper blend, is perfect for spice lovers.

Similar is the chili bomb power up, a paste made with a blend of chilis is still a fiery choice but with a bit more citrus and salt added in. Another bomb is the umami power up, which is a concentrate hit of six flavors of food.

For those a little less daring, and maybe more traditional, Wakame may be more your style; it is a sweet edible seaweed. Similar to wakame is the option to add nori to your bowl. Most people have tasted this edible seaweed strip when eating sushi.

Let’s not forget the bamboo shoots, leek hay, and green onion; all bright and earthy punches to consider as additions to your meal. For the extra hungry, you can also double your protein, which is a great option considering how quickly you will inhale the decadent pork or chicken.

As for the future, the store is only going to get cooler, and may feature actual arcade games. As I mentioned in my last article on the food group, a third concept is forthcoming in the space above El Coyote and Akedo.

Original Article Here

Review: the Corner Grill

Review: the Corner Grill

NEXT to the Publix, as it seems most everything on Whitemarsh Island is, sits a quaint little spot that I am positive many people have passed without even realizing.
The Corner Grill, truly a hidden gem, is one that I was lucky enough to notice while heading through the parking lot one day.
As the story goes, co-owner and Chef, Paige Harris, worked as a landscape architecture for over a decade before deciding to take the leap to follow his dream. His wife and co-owner, Terry Harris, has supported him every step of the way and works on the business side of the restaurant, allowing Paige to do what he does best— cook.

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Originally Paige did not set out to create a “burger joint,” but the menu “organically came to be,” Terry told me.
This is the dripping, gut warming, you-are-going-to-need-a-hundred-napkins kind of food that everyone loves. It is good for brunch, lunch, dinner, to eat while watching sports, late night, to cure a hangover, or when you just feel like being naughty.
You better go on the verge of death due to starvation, because Paige is not playing around with the portions he serves up.
Crowd favorites change from week to week, which is understandable when your menu is overflowing with decadent and unique creations — most of the time it has been the Gyro or a burger.
Paige told me that this week her “favorite is the Caesar Chicken Sandwich,” partially because she loved the burgers so much she was eating too many.
As for Raine Morrison, the young student working the counter, she suggested I try her current favorites: the Melt and the Gyro.
The most unique sandwich I have ever put in my mouth is called the Brunch. Two thick, chewy Belgian waffles are used as the vessel to carry a juicy piece of fried chicken.

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That is right! A chicken and waffles sandwich, and it is one that would be named best in show. You do not become best in show by simply being made of two waffles stacked together with some fried chicken and a little syrup.
Something more has to happen—the je ne sais quoi. Paige was kind enough to tell me exactly what the little something was that he adds to make the sandwich magical: dried onions.
Mopped onto the canyons of the golden brown waffle top is a chipotle sweet and sour sauce and ranch. Before wolfing down the sandwich, rather quickly I may add, I would have never imagined ranch and sweet and sour could work so harmoniously together. A punch to the palate is the best way to describe the flavor of the sandwich and is followed by the sweet flavor of sugar and the cooling effect of creamy ranch.
I would compare the Wade, another out-of-this-world sandwich, to a Southern version of a Hawaiian spam sandwich. This time us Southerners out did our Pacific surrounded distant cousins to the west, which is not surprising when you top a sandwich with pimento cheese.

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I believe this sandwich would make Paige’s father proud, and not because it is named after him. With bologna cut that thick, the taste brings a nostalgia that makes anyone smile.
First the bologna is seared on the flattop, giving it a nice crunchy crust. It is then layered between two slices of buttered toast along with a mountain of pimento cheese, pickles, and mustard.

Each ingredients has its own role, working together like an army of ants to devour your taste buds as their next prey.
For the side, the options are as vast the number of bachelorette parties that can be found in City Market on any given weekend. And I can assure you, eating any one of the Corner Grill’s mouthwatering side items is much more fun waking up after a long night downtown.
If it is your very first time eating at the Corner Grill, I would suggest the Feta Fries, which you could think of as their signature side item. Crunchy hand-cut fries are heaped among chunks of feta and fresh green onions. The feta brings the right amount of salt and tang to the party, and the green onions brighten the soul-filled hearty taste of the dish.
Just as indulgent are the Potato Skin Style Fries, not to be confused with actual potato skins. Those same hand-cut french fries are paired with all the ingredients that you know and love in a potato skin: melted cheese, bacon, green onions, and of course ranch that has oozed into every pore of this cavernous dish.
The mountain of fries is nothing short of sinful, but who can resist a revamp of a classic American dish.

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A man after my own heart, “Paige has always been a fan of sauces…[he] couldn’t even stand plain chips growing up as a kid without some sort of sauce to dip them in,” Terry told me.
I am not going to list every sauce available, mainly because it may take up the rest of this article, but I will tell you the list includes the classics like ranch and honey mustard and more unique artworks like feta dressing and something called boss sauce.

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What I will suggest is getting almost every sauce possible, stopping short of looking like a crazy sauce lady, so you can dunk every single bite into a different sauce and create different flavor combinations.
Wilmington Island and all of Savannah may be lucky enough to see what the Harris’ come up with next. Terry elaborated that they “would like to be able to expand into multiple locations or even try to open some other style restaurant.”

Original article: here