Thanks to all you Chowhounds, our our recent trip to Savannah and Charleston was a real chowfest. Even the "bad" meals were pretty darn good. We couldn't have chosen as well as we did without you!
Bistro Savannah -- Delightful. They had us at the herb-infused olive oil topped with fresh grated asiago and fresh ground pepper for bread dipping. It got better with blue crab stuffed talapia in champagne sauce for huz and a pork chop with sweet potato gratin for me.
Lady & Sons for lunch -- Lots of tasty (salty) fried food, which is probably why people line up around the block to get in. It's very upbeat and fun, with one of the waitresses bursting out into a soulful a capella rendition of "Georgia on My Mind". Let the record reflect that I, myself went back for seconds...
Elizabeth on 37th for dinner -- Still stuffed from Lady & Sons, I was satisfied with a lobster in a parmesan shell appetizer and a salad. Huz had beef tenderloin in Madiera with Low Country Hash. Some hounds had suggested we skip Elizabeth, but it was fine. The dramatic thunderstorm raging around us and dimming the lights added a level of adventure to the meal...in Southern California we don't get actual weather like that!
Gottlieb's for dinner -- The standout in Savannah and probably in my top five worldwide. The amuse was a delicate roasted duck spring roll with peanut sauce. The trio of mini breads was a knockout: yeasty soft clover leafs competed with onion rolls and rye rounds for best bread honors. The seared foie gras on a Belgian waffle drizzled with sugar cane syrup had me pounding the table in ecstacy. Huz was very pleased with his lobster on a corn cake with lobster gravy. My pecan crusted lamb on creamy grits was lovely and huz practically proposed to his grouper and fingerling potatoes. I told the waiter I was putting up a shrine to the chef as soon as I got home, so the chef came out to say hi and made some recommendations for Charleston; we had a lovely chat with the wine buyer as well. You have to be a movie star to get that kind of attention in So. Cal. Good food without the attitude...YAY!
Sapphire Grill for dinner -- a pale imitation of Bistro Savannah. My duck, tough and fatty, was served with a gluey, gelatinous potato pancake. The "special grits" side dish could have been served at any breakfast buffet and would have been half the price. But at least the coffee was weak.
One the way to Charleston, we stopped at Sgt. White's BBQ in Beaufort, S.C. It's exactly what you would expect for a BBQ joint: meat and two sides with corn bread and sweet tea. I loved the pulled pork (I didn't think it was oversauced as some have suggested) and the collard greens, butter beans and corn bread were yummy. I wonder how he gets the mac and cheese colored bright orange...We liked it so much we stopped back in on our way to the airport a few days later and had him pack us a lunch for the plane ride home. When we opened those containers -- while everyone else was savoring their tiny bags of ,pretzels -- and the smokey bbq scent wafted through the air...oh, man, was I glad to be me.
Anson for dinner -- a recommendation from the Gottlieb's chef. Rushed service in a freezing dining room. The food was delightful: she crab soup was divine and I would go back for that alone. An interesting salad featuring sweet onion, spinach, goat cheese and watermelon slices was nice. My New York strip was a bit over cooked but the lump crab cake that came with it was amazing, and the fried green tomatoes were very good. Huz liked his barbecue grouper with grits and greens. I would have liked to linger over the very good desserts (lemon souffle for me and "chocolate oblivion" for him) but the waitress was determined to turn the table and it was really cold in there!
Lunch at Jestine's -- it was fine. Smothered pork chop, fried chicken, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, etc. Not worth standing on the street for.
Dinner at Charleston Grill -- the standout in Charleston. Elegant dining room and pleasant service, but the food! Wow! First they sent a couple of gougere, then a seared tuna amuse. Huz started with lobster stuffed mussels and button scallops in an orange scented emulsion that was amazing; I had seared foie gras on a granny smith apple tart drizzled with huckleberry sauce. We were speechless. He loved his venison with spiced berries and my filet with pearl onions and ham-studded mashed potatoes in a pinot reduction was terrific. The desserts were probably the best of my life. I had a panache of summer fruit with rosemary scented sauternes and frozen yogurt. It was fresh and light and one of the most interesting flavor combinations I've ever put in my mouth. Huz got the pistachio chocolate mousse parfait. They also brought out my second choice for dessert "on the house" since I was having trouble deciding: frozen passion fruit and black currant parfait with chocolate and almond lace wafers. It was delicious as well. Just an overall excellent experience.
Dinner at McCrady's -- Another simply delightful meal. I had chilled asparagus soup with a dollop of olive oil ice cream floating in it and a slight trickle of truffle oil -- rich and delicate at the same time and perfect on a hot evening. Huz was ecstatic over his grilled octopus salad. My smoked duck was very good, but his roasted quail with almond stuffing is what I want for Thanksgiving dinner from now on. The service was a little indifferent and the molten chocolate cake was good, as was the peach cobbler with blueberry ice cream.
Magnolia's for lunch -- I had very high hopes but it didn't live up to the raves from our innkeeper and perhaps other hounds. The tomato and crab bisque had a bit too much cooked/canned tomato flavor and not much crab. Huz liked his blue crab bisque. I had the pork shoulder, red rice, collard greens plate and was happy with it, but it didn't knock me out. In fairness, however, I have to say that we may have been close to saturation at that point.
SNOB for dinner -- Again, I had huge expectations based on other hounds' reports, but it wasn't all that, at least the night we were there. The service was inattentive. The food was above average, to be sure, but I guess we had set the bar pretty high. My quail stuffed with sausage and wrapped in bacon was too salty and sort of chewy. Huz was satisfied with beef tenderloin, crab cake, spinach and grits. The desserts were absolutely average.
As I said at the beginning, it was a chow extravaganza and we couldn't have done it without you!