Toasted Barrel

Toasted Barrel

I can’t think of two more delicious items than cheese and bourbon. Everyone (save a few picky eaters) loves rich, decadent flavors that deliver the paradigm of what Southerners have been taught that good food is supposed to be.

Luckily for Savannah, Michelin Star-trained Chef Thomas Ciszak felt the same. Last weekend marked the beginning of his ideal whiskey/cheese mash-up with the opening of the low country’s newest casual dining bar and restaurant—Toasted Barrel. Toasted Barrel is the creation of delectable food maestro Chef Ciszak.

As Chef Ciszak put it, “Toasted Barrel is an ideal place to enjoy a cocktail or a light meal, featuring fresh, [and] delicious ingredients.”

The location is perfect for locals and visitors alike. The artfully decorated restaurant sits on the corner of Oglethorpe and Montgomery, within the SpringHill Suites and just a short stroll from the new Cultural Arts Center.

If you have not figured it out by now, “Toasted” refers to the long list of toasted sandwiches and dishes available on the menu, and “Barrel” represents the over forty available high-end bourbons.

The stand out cocktail for me was the Smoky Deal—a bacon-infused bourbon-based mixture. Head bartender Jordan Sox explained how the insanely unique infused dark liquor is created:
“We take bacon fat and we take Four Roses bourbon, we put them together and we freeze it.”

The mixture is, of course, strained before it is used, and the final flavor tastes like the most concentrated (and delicious) maple bacon essence you’ve ever tasted. Overall the finished cocktail tastes like a smokey sweet bourbon dessert.

The recommended sandwich pairing is the Bacon Schmelz—because one can never have too much bacon in their life.

One Hot Cucumber is the ideal cocktail to balance the richness of each gooey cheese sandwich. Citrus forward and piney Hendrick’s gin is combined with fresh lime and light coconut water for a smooth and easy-to-drink companion that pairs well with a lot of Toasted Barrel’s rich, savory sammies.

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The Monkey Barrel was created by Sox for the grand opening of Toasted Barrel. “It is a variation on a daiquiri, but with overproof Jamaican rum, Four Roses bourbon, creme de banana, and fresh lemon juice,” Sox explained as I sat at the bustling and beautifully adorned bar.

The reason for the addition of bourbon into a rum drink is due to Toasted Barrel’s focus on bourbon, but the additive is not anything but complementary to the base drink.

As the name would suggest, the grilled cheese selection is robust. I am confident in saying there is a toasted masterpiece perfect for any toasty dairy connoisseur.

Chef Ciszak selected Auspicious Bakery bread to adorn each one of his cheese filled artworks, and as anyone who knows grilled cheeses knows, the bread is extremely important.

Starting at the very top of the list, the Classic Cheese grilled cheese sandwich is just as bold as any of the unique combinations listed on the menu. Often times the simplest dishes are the most difficult to execute well, but The Toasted Barrel has simplicity figured out.

A river of melted cheddar cheese flows between slices of buttery grilled Auspicious toasts, and the robust serving of cheese inside is created by the use of double the amount of cheese of one of their other sandwiches. Simple yet well seasoned, this rendition is the quintessential toasted sandwich.

Fluffy scrambled eggs, sweet sausage, and sharp cheddar cheese make up the Breakfast Melt. Any good cook or chef knows just how difficult a good scrambled egg is to perfect, yet Chef Ciszak has done so. The succulent eggs add moisture to the spiced sausage and salty cheese.

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My favorite was the Toast “Monsieur,” a grilled cheese upgraded with salty sweet maple glazed ham, ultra savory gruyere cheese, and tangy grain mustard. The grain mustard serves to add texture and cut through the richness of the ham and cheese combination.

I saved the Crispy Goat for last because it could almost be dessert. Fork tender roasted beets come layered with sticky fig jam, tart balsamic, and velvety chèvre cheese. Any earthy flavor of the beets were cooked away with the roasting leaving behind a delicate root vegetable that held up well to the sweetness of the fig jam. Chef Ciszak’s use of balsamic vinegar rounded out all of the sugary notes, while the smooth chèvre cheese brought the entire dish home.

If you do not end up trying multiple sandwiches, a side item or two accompanies any main dish properly.

I grabbed multiple servings of Toasted Barrel’s Hand Cut Fries, and I do not know which tasted better, the fries themselves or the sriracha mayonnaise accompanying them. The Belgian style fries, cut thicker than most, are pillowy on the inside, crisp on the outside, and speckled with just the right amount of salt. The mayonnaise was not too spicy, instead working to coat the mouth with silky savory taste of sweet vinegary pepper.

When you find the Tater Tots listed on the menu of sides, do not be fooled into thinking you will be served modest rounds of white potato. Chef Ciszak created his own version using sweet potatoes and parmesan cheese. Tender, tiny pillows of silky sweet potato are fried until they have an outer shell of crunchy goodness. The petite crunchy clouds are then served with salty and nutty parmesan cheese to balance it all out.

Finally, because what is a grilled cheese without tomato soup to dunk it in, the restaurant offers their San Mariano Tomato Soup accompanied with five spice croutons as a side item.

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Like any succulent homemade tomato soup, their version is thick with seasoning and spices visibly floating about the savory soul warming concoction. The five spices on the crouton only deepen taste of the vivacious dish.

Original article is here.

 

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Ultimate Cornbread

Ultimate Cornbread

Officially, it is the time of year for parties, potlucks, family gatherings, and anything in-between. Fall is the time of year that I love most, mainly because all of the festivities gives me an excuse to cook – as if I needed one. For most cooks, the love of cooking comes from sharing your finished dish with others.

But with all of the doing and making everyone gets a bit tired, which is where quick and easy recipes come into play. A home cook can never have too many delicious quick recipes, the kind you lean towards when in a pinch or too busy to really put work into a dish.

A homemade batch of cornbread can easily fill in the gaps for any potluck or gathering. For me, the problem is that making perfect cornbread is not something I have mastered – until I came up with this recipe.

There are many schools of thought on cornbread; some like is sweet, some like it course, some like it filled with things, etc. Personally, I love the sweet version that comes straight from a box. I grew up eating sweet skillet cornbread, so anything short of what I grew up with was was never good enough.

Until this recipe, I did not know out how to make sweet cornbread that stayed together when sliced. And because everyone has their own preference in cornbread, I wanted to include as much in one recipe as possible…creating the ultimate cornbread.

My version uses honey as one of the sweeteners along with fresh sweet corn on the cob stirred right in. To balance everything out, fresh jalapenos are added for a little heat. Finally, smoked cheddar cheese is grated over the top to add a final layer of umami. As the cornbread cooks, the cheese becomes bubbly and browns on the top of the bread.

The best part, the dish takes only 15-20 minutes to mix together and bake – perfect for anyone in a pinch or just plain overworked.

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The Grey Market

The Grey Market

IT WAS only last month that Netflix announced that its award-winning documentary series Chef’s Table would feature local Savannahian and prized chef Mashama Bailey and her business partner John O. Morisano.

The episode, premiering next year, is set to tell the story of how the two created the Savannah’s The Grey, and how Chef Bailey is the first African American woman nominated for and a finalist in the runnings for the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southeast.

Chef Bailey ventured all the way down to Savannah from New York after connecting with Morisano, the brain behind the revamp of the old Greyhound bus station that now holds The Grey.

It goes without saying that The Grey and the team behind The Grey have helped put Savannah on the culinary map—finally! Chef Bailey showcases local ingredients and culture while bringing in inspiration from global influences.

The Grey houses two seating areas, each with their own menu, yet both offering patrons one of those dining experiences that you don’t forget.

Morisano is also from New York, so the idea to bring Savannah a third concept from The Grey team originated as he sat at a lunch counter in his home state.

“I went to a place in Washington Heights, a Dominican lunch spot, and I was like Savannah needs something like this,” he told me as we chatted at a high-top in his bustling new store front.

After visiting the one-of-a-kind new location, I couldn’t agree more that Savannah had a hole that is now filled by The Grey Market.

The concept of The Grey Market is simple—part store with high quality food related products and part restaurant with a food counter where you can perch and eat your lunch. Morisano explained the concept to me perfectly:

“Everything about this is a little familiar to Mashama and me, sort of like the bustling lunch counter with people almost throwing food at you.”

As for the bodega side, the thought was to aid those that work downtown and may need to stop into a store to grab one or two items.

You can also forgo stopping in to grab one or two items you forgot to pick up for dinner, and grab an entire precooked dinner created by The Grey. The market offers grab-and-go dinners (for an extremely reasonable price might I add) that usually features a meat, two sides, and bread.

“We tried it on the first night and it sold out immediately,” Morisano said, referencing the popularity of the family meals. Some of the items Morisano and Chef Bailey are considering featuring with the take-away meals include baked pasta, pork tenderloin, whole roasted fish, meatloaf, ribs, and fried chicken.

“All of the products that are in the market we [the Grey’s team] use. When we were talking about dry pasta, there was only one dry pasta in [his] grandmother’s Italian kitchen. Everything is picked that way,” Morisano explained describing the process of selecting products available for sale in the market.

Modeled after a true New York food hall counter, the menu is divided into breakfast, after 11 a.m., 4 p.m. to close, and all day items. You will also find baked goods and fountain sodas.

Also, the bagels are a big deal. “They are straight up New York bagels. Our baker is from New York, from the same borough of New York City I grew up in,” Morisano told me. I asked Morisano about why they chose New York style bagels over the rest.

He said, “in a way we don’t have a choice, we are all New Yorkers and do not know any other kind of bagel.”

Keeping true to The Grey’s northern roots, lox is offered alongside the bagels that are baked fresh daily. Chef Bailey’s version of lox is beet cured and served alongside cream cheese, red onion, and watercress.

Every single baked good, available in the store and both restaurants, is baked in-house on the top floor of the new marketplace.

I was told by Morisano that their NYC, a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich, is another menu item that is 100 percent authentic to the big city. A true NYC bacon egg and cheese is served on a kaiser roll, and not a bagel or toast like so many southern versions.

“One of the thing Mashama and I knew had to be on the menu was a New York bacon egg and cheese,” said Morisano after I mistakenly asked if their version was served on a bagel. He told me you can get the sandwich on a bagel, but the true New York way is on a kaiser.

The Sizzlin’ Smoky Pig is a sandwich, on the All Day side of the menu, based on one of the original menu items served at The Grey, the Sizzlin’ Smokey Pig. It was pork served sizzling in a cast iron skillet with a cracked egg on the top. The new version features smoked pig, pepper relish, and a fried egg all served on a kaiser roll.

I asked Morisano what he personally picked to feature on the menu:

“I was interested in seeing how Mashama could take some of the things we cooked over at The Grey and use that as inspiration for doing things here…I was really interested in connecting the DNA of The Grey with The Grey Market.”

The Grey Market has a list of approximately thirty wines that was curated by the wine and beverage director Caleb. Per Morisano, “there are more fun and big wines here, we are not limiting ourselves to the old world wines like The Grey.”

So far The Market has hosted a few impromptu wine tastings, and plan on hosting more at the standing counter.

Original article is Here.

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.

 

Maple & Burnt Cinnamon Cakes

Maple & Burnt Cinnamon Cakes

After reading the title, you may be asking yourself–what the heck is burnt cinnamon? When I first heard of it, I thought the same thing. Of course I was curious to know what it tasted like, so baking time ensued after a short deliberation on how to use it.

I will say this–making burnt cinnamon is one of the easiest things ever. You literally take a cinnamon stick, place it on a sheet pan, and torch it with a brulee torch. Voila! You have burnt cinnamon.

Charring the outside changes the flavor of the cinnamon. It mellows it out and adds roasted chocolatey notes. It only changes the flavor slightly, so you can use it in any recipe that calls for cinnamon.

I am hooked. I will probably forever char my cinnamon before adding it to a recipe.

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After it is charred you can grate it yourself, or steep in it milk to transfer the flavor. For this recipe I did both.

Since the air is so crisp and cool out, completely unlike the low country, I wanted to use a few falls flavors. Do not get me wrong, I love pumpkin but I wanted to stay clear of it as a fall flavor. Maple seemed ideal, and would be easy to impart into any recipe as the sweetener.

I created these tiny cakes by baking them in a maple leaf cake mold. You can bake the batter in any miniature cake mold or bake the entire cake in a bunt cake pan. I recommend a bunt cake pan, if you go big, because the batter results in a denser cake.

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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

Cherry Upside-Down Layer Cake

Cherry Upside-Down Layer Cake

This year was a big year for me—I turned the big 3-0. I know, by no means is thirty old, but it has taken some time for me to get used to the idea. That is the reason why this post is so late. My birthday was several months ago.

Almost every year for my birthday, I make myself a cake. My opinion is who better to do the job than yourself? Personally, I do not like super sweet, sugary cakes. I can count the number of cakes that I have truly enjoyed on one hand. So, the challenge this year was to make a balanced, grown-up cake; something truly representative of my new age.

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One trick to cutting down on the sweetness of a cake is to replace traditional icing with whipped cream. The use of tart fresh cherries would also help to counter balance the sugary cake layers. The overall result was perfect, a light, sophisticated, and beautiful (in taste and look) cake.

This recipe forgoes traditional livening ingredients, baking soda/powder, and replaces them with folded in egg whites. Which means you will need to be a bit more careful with your bake.

I used three eight inch cake pans for my version, which created pretty thin layers. If you like thicker layers, I recommend switching the eight inch pans for three six inch pans.

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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.
click to enlarge

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.”