Fork & Dagger is a sandwich shop almost 20 years in the making. That's a long time to wait for a well-made pressed Cuban sandwich. Nonetheless, here we are.
I first met Brian Torres back around 2011. He was part of a trio that took a chance to put a gourmet to-go and wine shop in the space where an old popular restaurant had once stood. It was somewhat of a bold move considering the neighborhood around Habersham and 33rd streets was anything but inviting for anything gourmet, really. EOS was the name of that restaurant, and by all accounts it had done well there. I say by all accounts because I never visited EOS.
The guys at FORM were doing a nice job. A good wine selection, good cheeses and their signature cheesecakes, which Brian perfected after learning the ropes of classic New York cheesecake in Brooklyn. Their specialty at FORM was custom dinners. It wasn't a restaurant - it was more of gastronomic enclave.
When the rumors started swirling that the building was going to be sold, which it ultimately was to become Cotton & Rye, Brian and his business partners scattered, all trying to figure out what was next. Brian had his heart set on a New York-style deli shop, if not in that space then somewhere. If I had a nickel for every time he told me back then, "Savannah doesn't have a neighborhood sandwich shop where you can enjoy a great sandwich and a cup of coffee." Of course, he was referring to the area north of Victory Drive. Keep in mind this was 2012, and the landscape around town was very different then.
Finding the right location to pull that vision off proved next to impossible. Over the next few years, Brian took jobs here and there. There and here. I'd see him from time to time, but no matter what he was doing or where he was working, he never stopped looking for that perfect spot for his sandwich shop. He got close a couple of times. I actually thought it was going to happen sooner than it did, but I am a firm believer that everything happens when it is supposed to.
Brian has found his spot.
Fork & Dagger is a brand-new sandwich shop at 609 Abercorn St. in downtown Savannah. Those of you familiar with the area know it as the building across the street from the old Leoci's Trattoria. Another Italian restaurant, Cuoco Pazzo is now in that space. Fork & Dagger faces Abercorn on the ground floor of that eyesore of an apartment building that sits between Abercorn and Forsyth Park. Yeah, you know the one.
The space inside has been gutted and completely cleaned up and renovated. It was last in use two or more years ago. That part took a lot longer than Brian and his partners thought it would, but they did a fantastic job inside with that space. A nice shade of blue on the walls, flowers on every table. Once inside, you feel like you can be anywhere in Savannah. It's a great-looking spot.
The first time I walked into the newly completed spot (after they opened for business) was St. Patrick's Day, about 10 a.m. The shop sits on the parade route, so I expected a large crowd looking for something to eat or drink. What did I see? New York police officers here for the festivities snapping up bagels, muffins and sandwiches.
Making it all happen along with Brian is Sky Hoyt, a young lady Brian met once upon a time in the late 1990s in Charleston. They fell in love, moved to Spain, had a child, moved back and settled in Savannah. Brian has since re-married and added two more children to the Torres clan, but his relationship with Sky has always been part of the mix. Over the years, they had worked together on a couple of different projects, Fork & Dagger being the latest, and I think they've got something here.
We know I don't do traditional reviews, but I will say this: I had an excellent Cuban sandwich a couple of weeks ago, for $7 with a side of well-made potato salad. Since then I've had several conversations with business owners and chefs in the neighborhood who have all told me they've tried Fork & Dagger's hot pastrami sandwich (also $7) or pork belly cheesesteak with caramelized onions, peppers and melted provolone ($8). I have yet to hear anything from anyone except some version of "that might be my new favorite spot for lunch." I can't disagree.
I made a point of sharing prices (something I never do) with you because in this era of $13 sandwiches and $18 burgers, I was frankly floored by the fact that the most expensive item on the menu at Fork & Dagger was $8. You can get a grilled ham and cheese sandwich for $5. Downtown Savannah? Fuhgeddaboutit.
Let's just throw in for the sake of our chat that the sandwiches are really good. Quite possibly the best value in Chatham County. If you know of a better one, please email me at email@example.com. And I'm only half kidding.
Fork & Dagger's location is perfect. A block off of the park with a connecting side street right around the corner, it has all the potential of becoming a neighborhood hot spot. Custom-fit for some sandwiches to-go and a couple of hours under the canopy we call Forsyth Park.
"I always wanted a spot where the neighborhood could come out and have a sandwich. Sure, we welcome any tourists that want to stop by, but we aren't counting on that business to survive," Brian tells me.
They are open from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. Monday-Saturday. There is plenty of parking along the street. You may have to park at a meter, so bring your change purse and eat it and like it.
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