Few things can top an evening of good food, music and company, and at Dept. 7 East - runner-up in Savannah Magazine's Best New Restaurant category - you can find all three on Thursday evenings from 6-9 p.m.
After a brief hiatus for remodeling, Dept. 7 East reopened its doors Sept. 12 with extended hours, restarting what they've dubbed the "Petit FÃªtes" series.
The Velvet & Vin installments feature wine offerings and local favorites Ricardo Ochoa and Sasha Strunjas of Velvet Caravan, who dub their sound as "European redneck music reminiscent of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. Those are the two guys that really developed the style in Paris in the mid-'30s and '40s," Ochoa says.
They are joined at these events by Eric Dunn, bassist for Velvet Caravan and The Train Wrecks.
The term Petit FÃªtes, or small celebration, works on many levels because they offer a small yet carefully curated wine menu featuring a handful of reds, whites and rosÃ©s by the glass, with one of each on special for $6.
"We select all of the wines we serve at Dept. 7. We try to select wines that will appeal to the average customer as well as our fellow wine snobs," owner Meta Adler says. "We also select wines based on value. We try to offer the best wines at affordable prices, especially by the bottle. We have over 20 whites and 20 reds by the bottle. We love rosÃ©, so we have an entire section on our wine list devoted to them, most of which are offered by the glass."
All bottles are also available for purchase to take home.
"We love any reason to celebrate and throw a party," Adler says. "Live music was one element we were missing at night, so we started searching for local musicians who would be a good fit with Dept. 7. Luckily, we found Velvet Caravan."
Ochoa echoes Adler's enthusiasm: "People can expect an intimate, acoustic European serenade. We play as a trio (guitar, bass and violin) with the charming Eric Dunn. Don't get me wrong; (we're) still a little 'redneck' but indeed sophisticated. The service is very good at Dept. 7E, so the experience is going to be top of the line. Food, music and wine? Few restaurants do that well in Savannah."
While the warmer temperatures last, Adler suggests ordering Vinho Verde.
"This wine from Portugal is the quintessential summer wine. It is crisp and refreshing and has a slight effervescence that is perfect for beating the summer heat. We suggest pairing it with the Bonnie Blue sandwich, which has pickled blueberries and Vidalia onions, Brie cheese, pistachios, mint and basil served on baguette," she says.
Keep an eye out for information about their one-year anniversary party in October, too.
"We will be celebrating in the true Savannah fashion by throwing a big ol' cocktail party. We have a lot of fun things up our sleeves," Adler shares.
As for Ochoa and Strunjas, they play four to five times per week around Savannah and three to four times per month with the full band, including at Revival Fest, Savannah Jazz Festival, South Carolina Jazz Festival and a possible concert with the Savannah Philharmonic in the spring.
Ochoa adds, "We love when people approach us at Dept 7E to talk about music or just to swap some lies. If there is wine involved, we have plenty of stories to tell and songs to play."