I have never been one for the conventional New Year’s resolution, even if I know that I need to do some cardio and some crunches in 2020. I delightfully blame my augmented frame on writing this column each week and all of the great food that I have eaten and written about since last March.
I have no intention of giving up either gratifying pursuit in the new year.
While I head out to our garage more often to do hanging crunches, the best of the best eateries in Savannah are already working on renovations, revamps, expansions, and even re-locations that will be realized in the next twelve months, hopefully for the betterment of our collective dining delight.
Over the next few weeks, I plan to devote columns to the imminent openings of another Green Fire Pizza and of 787 by Chazitos, Fork & Dagger’s impending displacement from Chatham Apartments and (hopefully) nearby move, where Gottlieb’s lands, when The Collins Quarter at Forsyth Park opens, and the prognosis for Gaslight Group’s future ‘foodprint’ on the local landscape.
Until those stories unfold and as we all get used to writing ‘2020’, keep tabs on the following restaurants’ projects and enjoy all that is new in the new year.
THE MLK CORRIDOR
Barely half a year old, the stylish and charming restaurant The Fat Radish on Martin Luther King Blvd. is embracing local culinary traditions even more with a Lowcountry boil every third Sunday of the month. Natalie Freihon’s team will unfurl red-and-white checkered tablecloths and load up pitchers of beer to go with Chef Nick Wilber’s all-you-can-eat communal dining treat ($30 per person).
On Sunday and Monday nights, The Fat Radish will do a whole roast for two with sides and dessert and half-off bottles of wine; Tuesday nights are Burger and Beer Night, one of each for $15; Wednesday nights feature Chef Wilber’s special fried chicken until it runs out, and Thursday nights are ‘Shuck Yeah’ oyster nights.
Less than a block down MLK, Prohibition will roll out its new 2020 dinner menu next week, adding grilled octopus in a warm potato salad with herb oil, a bone-in pork schnitzel crusted in Ritz crackers and served with braised cabbage, mushroom ragout, and caraway crème fraîche, and a grilled twelve-ounce ribeye accompanied by a spinach and potato gratin and topped with blue cheese and crispy onions.
A few new salad options will round out the menu as well while Prohibition continues to source local ingredients from local purveyors, such as Gottlieb's Bakery, Billy's Botanicals, Lowcountry Oyster Company, and Savannah River Farms.
BAY AND BROUGHTON
At The Fitzroy, Chef Edgar Thomas came onboard this past June and has made extensive changes to the menu that have already been well received. Having grown up just an hour from Savannah, Chef Thomas has stirred his Southern style of cooking into The Fitzroy’s Australian roots to create a truly diverse carte.
On the revamped-but-familiar dinner menu is a Bourguignon-style braised short rib big as a car battery and a “Beyond Burger” with vegan Dijonnaise, though you cannot go wrong with the tangy, tender charred octopus slathered in Korean barbecue sauce or the brioche-crusted chicken schnitzel. The brunch menu is a melting pot of Savannah, Sydney, and Cyprus with buttermilk biscuits and chicken sausage gravy, Australian ricotta hotcakes, and the new Shashouka, a Mediterranean kitchen-sink dish with poached eggs, chorizo, roasted potatoes, and cotija in a spicy tomato gravy. Wash down whatever you order with a perfected paired breakfast cocktail.
When The Broughton Common opened back in October, chef-owner Michael Vaudrin and his team were not yet certain what they would do with the stunning second floor, a patalial space equipped with its own kitchen and bar and separate entrance and staircase. In 2020, The Blind Sus (pronounced “Sue”) may become just as popular in the evenings, especially for folks in the food trade, as the already packed Broughton Common is for brunch. With a moniker derived from America’s speakeasy history, this combined venture of The Ordinary Pub and The Broughton Common will operate as a comfortable and secluded neighborhood pub from Wednesday through Sunday nights and will offer its own menu of “elevated dive bar” grub: pressed burritos and brined house-smoked and fried chicken and duck wings available in any of a dozen sauces. Try the mustard coulis.
Vaudrin is also excited that The Broughton Common, utilizing The Blind Sus and the historic mezzanine that seats up to thirty guests and overlooks the main dining room, will allow his events team and Chef Justin Grizzard to welcome groups for cozy gatherings, something that is just not feasible in The Ordinary’s much tighter and always busy subterranean confines.
Before Savannah’s outpost of the coastal cuisine standard-bearer celebrates its two-year anniversary, Chef Chris Hathcock and his kitchen will introduce Monday Night Raw + Ramen. Starting at 5:30 every Monday evening in the grandly handsome upstairs bar, guests can enjoy an exclusive menu featuring oyster specials and savory bowls of ramen. Go early because ramen quantities are limited and are first come, first served.
The Low Country Pork Ramen ($16) stars Grass Roots pork belly and country ham, and the Vegetable Ramen ($14) has pickled mushrooms, root vegetables, burnt onion dashi. Both preparations are served with collards, radishes, benne, soft egg, Sea Island peas, and pepper mash chili oil. Either would go nicely with a Super Gold Sparkling Junmai Saké (Proper Saké Co.).
KEEP ON TRUCKIN’
Chris Dickerson’s 2020 is going to be a literal blast from the past when the eponymous Squirrel’s Pizza owner opens Burrito Royale in the 1965 Airstream that launched Corner Taco in Jacksonville back in 2011. This sleek food truck will be in the rotation at Starland Yard, and Dickerson said that he is working on finding a fixed location for the truck in the Starland neighborhood.
At Squirrel’s, Soul Sundays will start in the coming weeks, spinning old school LPs to go with your tasty wood-fired pies and wings and signature sliders.
Kay and Anna Heritage and their Big Bon Family will begin offering pre-order brunch for pick up at Bodega between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. every Saturday: a six-pack of bagels and cream cheese ($18), a ready-to-bake bacon, sausage, a four cheese breakfast casserole ($14), and a four-pack of cinnamon rolls ($12). More items and options are already in the works.
Because wood-fired pizzas are now widely available and definitively delicious, especially in Starland, Big Bon Pizza is going to focus on mobile pizzafication in the new year. Pop-up dates already include Saturday Night Lights at Perc on Saturday, Jan. 18 from 6:-8:30 p.m.and a grand opening celebration at Coffee Fox Louisville on Friday, Jan, 24 from 6-8:30 p.m.
STAY POSTED AND HUNGRY
The second half of 2020 promises to be bright for Josh Yates and Green Truck Pub, which will celebrate ten years of serving grass-fed burgers in October. Sometime in the second half of the year, the doors will open on his pizza joint, less than a mile up Habersham. Reconstruction and renovation of the onetime home of Savannah’s Fresh Catch Seafood has been well underway for months already, and another quality eatery will make that stretch even more of a dining destination.
Fans of Michael Gottlieb’s namesake family institution cannot wait to find out where they will be able to buy sticky buns and chocolate chewies now that the bakery has been bought out of its lease in the Eisenhower Square plaza and will be closing sometime in 2020. Patience, baked-goods buddies: Gottlieb is already working on another bakery-restaurant hybrid concept, with more emphasis on the latter, so we can all hope that the mushroom burger is rising over the horizon.
Daniel Reed Hospitality is expanding sideways, if you will, and managing partner Jamie Durrence expects Franklin’s to open in the fall, adding even more Daniel Reed eats along the Liberty Street corridor. Accessible by Liberty St., and attached through Public's downstairs dining room, Franklin’s “will allow Public to expand on its popular offerings while boasting a whole new menu of express to-go style items,” said Durrence. The plan is to open early for the morning rush and offer a wide range of made-to-order, all-day brunch items and prepared foods, as well as savory baked goods to go with a house-brewed coffee. Franklin's will also offer a carefully curated array of local and regional products perfect for a picnic to take to a nearby square.
When we came to Savannah in 2015, local folks told us that we were moving to town at just the right time, with particular respect to the burgeoning food scene. Our five years of living and eating here have been better than advertised, and despite some 2019 restaurant closings, changes for the better always seem to be on the boil and in the oven.
Here’s to a tasty 2020!