When the Tweeters tweet, sometimes, they make you think. Sometime ago, I was asked by someone via Twitter who has my favorite shrimp and grits in Savannah.
Oh, boy. Shrimp and grits. A dish that originated in the Charleston area has become almost synonymous with the South. Ask any caterer who is asked to prepare a meal for an out-of-towner. If shrimp and grits isn't a first request, it's near the top.
There is nothing wrong with that, of course. Except there are many places out there taking advantage of that dish's popularity to serve up some watery white stuff and some shrimp the size of a dime. I've come to call some of those dishes shrimp and gross (using the term shrimp very loosely).
I've stepped up to bat many times with shrimp and grits. If you enjoy them, then I don't need to tell you that when they are done well, they are outstanding. Of course, many things play into that - the quality and creaminess of the grits being first and foremost.
By the way, I did not grow up on grits. My wife did. So for the longest time, whenever I'd make them, she was my texture police. I honestly had no clue what it was supposed to be like, but I do now. And I do know that real grits (for shrimp and grits at any rate) shouldn't look the color of a bowl of water with an Alka-Seltzer in it.
You may find that at your local breakfast spot with a nice healthy square of butter in the middle, but that stuff just drives me nuts. You spend half your time hitting it with salt, pepper, more butter and who knows what just to make it right. I've seen it happen oh so many times, and odds are, so have you. But that's just me.
So where have I enjoyed shrimp and grits most? Three times here in Savannah. Not to say others weren't good (still others shrimp and gross) but some folks did it right. I won't go into crazy detail because for the most part, they are all the same - except for The Olde Pink House. One of my favorite things to do in Savannah (typically on a chilly evening) is pop in to Planter's Tavern underneath the Pink House. The darkness, fireplace, the history (of which I am huge fan) just screams at you.
As you know, the full Pink House menu is available down there. Many, many times we've just had a glass or two of wine and a couple of appetizers - including the sautÃ©ed local shrimp with country ham gravy and a cheddar cheese grit cake.
Nine times out of 10, it has been incredible. That 10th time the cake was dried out, but obviously I kept eating it. It's a small portion, but the shrimp are healthy and the flavors are magical together.
The other spot I ate and liked after one bite was at Aqua Star at the Westin Savannah Harbor. It was part of their Sunday brunch (no, not cheap, but the best in town). It isn't always there, perhaps a seasonal thing, but it is wonderful.
Honorable mention goes to Paul Kennedy Catering. Had it one time at a function and thought it was done perfectly. Certainly not somewhere you can walk up and order lunch, but it does deserve a mention. PKC does a great job with everything, shrimp and grits included.
These are higher-end spots, but shrimp and grits don't have to be gourmet to be excellent. Grits are a personal thing in the South. I'm not going to tell you that you shouldn't like what you like. As my dad used to say, that's why God invented colors.
The tweeter who started this discourse is "on a mission to find the best shrimp and grits in Savannah." She's tried them here, there and everywhere, she says, and so far, her favorite has been Tubby's Tank House in Thunderbolt, which went on my list of dishes I have yet to try.
If you have a favorite, please let me know at email@example.com. For the record, the best shrimp and grits I've ever had? Hominy Grill in Charleston.
They almost made me cry.
See you on TV, Jesse
â€¢ It's been a while since we shared this space. You may have noticed I am no longer a part of your nightly news at 10 p.m. My last day was June 5. Where am I going, you ask? Nowhere. Staying right here in Savannah and focusing all of my time on Eat It and Like It. Season 3 is coming this fall. Keep up with us on Facebook and Twitter: @eatitandlikeit.
â€¢ Zunzi's 2 is now open on Drayton Street right behind Outback Steakhouse. Have not heard anything about it yet - looking forward to popping in this weekend.
â€¢ I've got a beer for you to try this summer. It's called Hell or High Watermelon by 21st Amendment Brewery. A traditional wheat beer (so if you don't enjoy those, don't bother) with what they call a "kiss of watermelon." I honestly thought it would be ridiculously sweet, but it truly was a perfect hint of summer. Absolutely loved it. On tap at World of Beer Savannah on Broughton Street.