New York’s the Fat Radish comes to Savannah

New York’s the Fat Radish comes to Savannah

VEGETABLE forward with meat options—surely a first for Savannah, to say the least. Not only a first, but a first in all of the right ways.

Natalie Freihon and Phil Winser are part of the team that runs a very successful restaurant in New York City, The Fat Radish. The idea is simple: seasonal locally sourced ingredients presented in a simple yet masterful way.

The next step for the Fat Radish came naturally by expanding to serve as the managing partners at Basic Kitchen in Charleston, S.C. There, Executive Chef Nick Wilber joined the team and they branched yet again to our changing town to bring even more innovation.

Savannah’s The Fat Radish opened last week and brought with it a noteworthy buzz and beautiful food.

I sat down with Freihon while the restaurant was still a construction zone to learn about the team’s vision and their story.

Freihon, a Los Angeles native and New York local, informed me, “New York is a very tough market as everyone knows. However, what I found is that by moving down south and starting to work in Charleston, that there is a real opportunity to be on the ground when it comes to developing the hospitality community.”

Since the team looked towards Charleston and began operating a second restaurant there, I asked Freihon why they branched towards Savannah, a sister city that is further south and less developed.

“I really like the dichotomy between Charleston and Savannah,” she says. “I reference it a lot to people that are in New York that Savannah is kinda the lower east side to Charleston’s upper east side of New York, and our restaurant in New York is on the lower east side. This kind of community, with a lot of young people, that is a bit more diverse, I find inspiring.”

To say the least, the food at The Fat Radish is inspired. Inspired by the South, the British roots of Winser, the farmers who provide the produce, the community of Savannah, and by the people and chefs who run the restaurant.

We have seen it time and time again here—Southern food served as a revamped version of the old, tired Southern fare. The difference in The Fat Radish is that while presenting food that nods to the South, the restaurant pays respect to the ingredients and where those ingredients came from. This isn’t your grandma’s Sunday supper.

“We don’t like to be overly fussy with our food,” Freihon elaborates, “We try to keep less than five ingredients on the plate. If you are getting great ingredients, you really don’t need to fuss over them.”

And although the primary focus of The Fat Radish is to bring sustainable farm fresh food to the locals and tourists of downtown, just as much mindfulness is put into their meat options.

I want to talk about the most memorable vegetable dish (at least as it was super memorable for me). The reason is simple: I can’t think of a time that I have eaten a carrot and thought that I really loved it; I probably withstood it at best.

The true test of good food is whether or not you want to eat it again and again, and these carrots I could eat for eternity.

The sweet root vegetable is cooked to absolute tenderness. Pungent goat cheese goes hand in hand with sugary vegetable, and benne seeds are added for crunch.

As a local, I have eaten more fried oysters than anyone should within their lifetime. You can find them almost anywhere in town, the good, the bad, and the greasy.

A simple dish in theory, but when done right, fried oysters can be one of the most sumptuous parts of any meal. Yet, all too often the delicate meat is over battered and over fried.

The Fat Radish’s oysters are so delicate they almost disappear as you eat them. Other than with a deft hand and expert precision, I’m not sure how The Fat Radish pulls off a fried oyster that melts like butter once you place it on your tongue. You will find a light cucumber salad and crème fraiche paired with the mollusks.

The Scotch Egg puts every legitimate Irish pub in town to shame. It is a staple dish that has been on the menu since the beginning, which means you can find it on the menu in New York.

Generously wrapped in sausage, the center features a sumptuous soft boiled egg. The sausage is coated in breadcrumbs before receiving a hard cook.

The cornichon, a small tart French pickle, is something I would never think to add to a scotch egg, but I will now never eat a scotch egg without one. The tiny little sour vegetable cuts through any heaviness that you would find from an egg covered in sausage.

I saved the absolute best dish to talk about last. The Pastrami Brined Chicken Schnitzel. It puts our Southern fried chicken to shame.

By first brining the chicken, the end result is a tender and moist white meat that could make you pass on even the best cooked steak. The schnitzel batter is light yet crisp, while the pickled vegetables served with the bird is the perfect counterpart to the bone sticking meat.

I did not forget to ask (and sample) the cocktails—one of the more important menu items for locals. Freihon, the creator behind it, tells me, “We are doing a cocktail program that is very similar to New York. It represents the same ethos that our food menu represents in that we try to make them simple, delicious, and fun, use local ingredients that we source locally and we try to make it low waste.”

The team wants to bring change to Savannah, and in their few short weeks of operation have already implemented more than this town has seen in a long time.
I look forward to seeing what The Fat Radish brings to our community and how it will also inspire others within the neighborhood.

Original article is here.

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The Newest Bakery in Savannah: Mad Mac’s

The Newest Bakery in Savannah: Mad Mac’s

My favorite kind of article to write is the one where I stumble upon a new place—literally.

Several weeks ago, while walking through Wright Square after lunch, I noticed an open sign in the space that once occupied Our Daily Bread.

Intrigued, I immediately walked in and asked the lady behind the counter, “What is this?” She promptly responded, “Mad Mac’s Bakery.”

A quick glance around and my eyes were filled with colorful French macarons, cookies, muffins, and everything in between. I knew immediately I wanted to write about my lucky find.

That lady turned out to be Dee Gibson, mother to owner of Mad Mac’s Bakery, Logan McDonald. While I was in the bakery buying more baked goods than I could stomach, we chatted quickly and without hesitation set me up an interview with McDonald.

I was elated, because a second trip to Mad Mac’s would give me an ample excuse to buy even more sweet treats, which I did.

During my first visit I purchased a six pack of macarons. The price is quite possibly the best in town — you get a half a dozen for only ten bucks.

A few of the flavors I took home included Mexican hot chocolate, confetti, and pistachio. Each macaron had a textbook execution with a light crunchy shell that gives way to a tender and chewy inside.

I also grabbed a few Cup Cookies, which was by far my favorite cookie offered at Mad Mac’s. Cookie dough is mushed into a muffin pan before being baked. The result is a baked good with the perfect cookie texture—a crunchy shell and an ooey gooey soft cookie center. The Cup Cookies have everything you could love about a well baked cookie warm out of the oven.

Mad Mac’s did not stop at simply baking a cookie. Each cup is topped with a hefty piping of soft buttery icing. The chocolate chip was my favorite (mainly because I feel as though a chocolate chip cookie is the ultimate cookie), but the snickerdoodle was just as scrumptious.

I am told by McDonald that the Heath Bar Cup Cookie is their most popular. A third trip may be in order to hunt down the Heath Bar version.

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When I returned to learn about Mad Mac’s from McDonald, I first asked him several questions about the place, then purchased a few more treats to round out my experience.
My first question was, “Where does Mad-Mac’s come from?” McDonald shed some light saying, “My last name is McDonald and McDonald’s is already taken, and of course it works with macarons.”

Of course, I then followed with a series of questions about his recipes and all of the baked good available.

McDonald is the great-grandson of Mabel Francis Potter of Mabel’s Cupckae Emporium. Baking and working with Mabel’s, the idea of Mad Mac’s was not a new one, and had been thrown around before. When the storefront became available, McDonald seized his opportunity to branch out from his family.

Although McDonald is doing his own thing, he explains, “A lot of the recipes come from my great-grandmother Mabel Francis Potter with the cupcake emporium. I am have a little bit of a different take, keeping her naming going and modernizing it a little bit.”

I next ask McDonald about all of the macarons since French macarons seem to be the cornerstone of the store. He tells me that they “make them in house and a lot of places do not…we are constantly making new flavors. We probably have around thirty flavors of macarons.”

Even though there are enough variations of macarons to make anyone happy, the second case of treats in the store is well round and rotates like the macarons.
According to McDonald, “the menu changes, but you can always expect it to include French macarons.”

Because of the ever-available macarons, my second visit I decided to take home some cookie sandwiches and a muffin. The muffin did not make it home.

I never eaten a muffin and expect to be totally wowed. Was I pleasantly surprised with the muffin from Mad Mac’s? Yes. Completely taken aback.

I state this without hesitation—the apple muffin at Mad-Mac’s was one of the most enjoyable muffins I have ever eaten. Large chunks of apple added into the batter make the finished muffin so moist it is almost sticky.

Somehow a super-fine and delicate cake crumble is created by their recipe. McDonald also mentions having a berry and mango filled muffin available as well. The addition of mango into a classic berry muffin highlights his modern take on his family recipes.

As for the cookie sandwich, like all of the other treats in the mountain of baked goods I tried, it was heavenly. Inside of two classic chocolate chip cookies you will find a slathering sweet silky icing. The Red Velvet Cookie Sandwich is a deep dark red cookie with coated with a white glaze and filled with a classic frosting.

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Finally, the case had a Magic Bar, which McDonald says has been extremely popular with patrons. It is created using graham cracker, coconut, chocolate and a few other things. “It’s a gooey coconut chocolate bar. It is glorious,” McDonald says.

McDonald plans to open a comic book shop in the back of the bakery. Which begs the question—why open a comic book store in a bakery?

McDonald elevated my wonder by saying, “Whenever I go into a comic book store it is almost a scary thing. It is a dark place with water dripping down the ceiling. I always wanted to have a high end comic book store.”

Patrons can expect the paper portion of the storefront to open its doors between March and April.

Original article can be found here.

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.

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.”

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.