It has been nothing if not an eventful six months at Savannah’s already iconic dining spot, The Grey, in downtown Savannah.
Since opening its doors just before Christmas, there have been features in any number of national publications. Esquire, The New York Times, even Architectural Digest has come calling on 109 MLK Jr. Blvd. Most notably though, in just a few months of service, The Grey was named a semi-finalist for a James Beard Award, the culinary world’s highest honor.
Now comes the latest spotlight to shine on The Grey and ultimately Savannah’s percolating culinary scene. The Grey has been named one of Food & Wine Magazine’s 5 Best Restaurants of 2015. Yes, in America.
Address: 109 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Hours: Tuesdays through Sundays, dinner only, beginning at 5 p.m.
FOOD & WINE 2015 RESTAURANTS OF THE YEAR
Cosme, New York City: This is superstar Enrique Olvera’s first venture outside Mexico City. He takes tortillas to the next level with meticulously sourced corn kernels in shades of yellow, pink and black.
Petit Trois, Los Angeles: Ludo Lefebvre pays tribute to the French classics with dishes like a melty Boursin-stuffed omelet that even Justin Timberlake has Instagrammed.
Spoon and Stable, Minneapolis: Gavin Kaysen serves a stellar modern American menu, but he can cook anything. On Saturday nights he makes pork-confit ramen for 15 lucky diners at the bar.
The Grey, Savannah: Bronx-born Mashama Bailey creates distinctive Southern dishes in a gorgeously renovated 1938 Greyhound bus station.
The Progress, San Francisco: Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski are so committed to the concept of sharing, they put a lazy Susan on their best table. At $65 for six courses (plus snacks), dinner is a bargain.
The selections come from Food & Wine editors and will be part of the July issue of the magazine, available on newsstands beginning June 19. The honor was received with happiness and a good dose of standard humility by those inside The Grey.
John “Johno” Morisano, managing partner, offered: “This is a great honor and it really belongs to everyone on our team and the Savannahians who have supported us. Our goal from the outset has been to create a space that our neighbors and friends can call their own. Thanks to Food & Wine for acknowledging our commitment to that but mostly thanks to our staff and our guests for giving us a chance. We appreciate it and we know that this is just the start.”
In the kitchen, there’s a good bit of elation as well.
“Coming to Savannah to launch The Grey has been incredibly challenging and rewarding,” says Executive Chef Mashama Bailey. “For Food & Wine to acknowledge us in this way blows my mind but also makes me realize that we have so much to do to achieve our goals. I'll take a moment to enjoy this, but then I’ll be right back in the kitchen with my team working on making today a little better than yesterday was for our guests.”
“These awards celebrate all kinds of amazing dining experiences, from the most forward-thinking chefs and restaurateurs in the country,” says Dana Cowin, editor-in-chief of Food and Wine. “I love how diverse and trendsetting these places are — and how fun.”
The Grey joins Cosme in New York City, Petit Trois in Los Angeles, Spoon and Stable in Minneapolis and The Progress in San Francisco as 2015 winners.
Ultimately, the goal at The Grey has, and always will be, perfection. On any given night, 60 or so seats in the main dining room buzz with guests enjoying Southern comfort samplings and any number of Mashama’s soon-to-be classics.
There isn’t a restaurant on the planet that will please 100 percent of their guests 100 percent of the time, but that doesn’t mean management isn’t losing sleep trying to figure out a way to do it.
The Grey’s journey is in its infancy, but with every accolade, award and acknowledgement, comes a bump on the expectation dial that Morisano and Bailey are excited to try to meet.