Though someone in Atlanta ‘re-opened’ the state last week, I am not going anywhere. As much as I want to resume life as I know it, I am contentedly resigned to remain in self-imposed ‘isolation’ for another few weeks, at least. I have my wife. We have our little house. We’re good.
I have no pressing need for a tattoo, and I am a lousy bowler.
Endless thanks to the selflessly dedicated employees and delivery drivers at Kroger, Publix, and Whole Foods, we continue to fill our cupboards and our fridge once every ten days or so, and I am more than happy to spend quality time in the kitchen.
Right before I began typing this column, I took a tray of burger buns out of the oven. Let me know if you want the recipe.
The gods honest: I have rather settled into a routine in the “Pandemiverse,” and not a day has gone by in the last month-plus that I have not pinched myself for my great fortune: I sit on our front porch and Zoom-teach my classes; I build a bit more of a retaining wall; my wife and I talk a long walk around our gorgeous neighborhood; I make dinner, and we end another day watching a British mystery on Acorn.
While we certainly miss seeing friends in person, and in proximity, and being at work physically, we are otherwise only wistful for going out to eat.
Quite a few of our favorite restaurants have remained open in these COVID-19 times, dining rooms closed, of course, but kitchens stalwartly preparing fare for curbside pick-up or delivery. I feel a bit bad that we have not supported our food friends in these difficult times, but it has just been easier and safer to stay home.
Come to think of it, I was last in my car on April 13: a quick trip to Home Depot to pick up four more bags of mortar mix and some work gloves. The next day, my sister-in-law and niece, who live in Rochester, NY, lovingly ordered me a birthday meal of lasagna and a pizza from Squirrel’s that was delivered to our front steps. The older I get, the more I am touched by the gift of food. That lasagna brought tears.
Aside from two nights’ worth of that delicious delivery from Squirrel’s, we have eaten what I have made, often talking about which restaurants we will go back to right away when the world is once again spinning properly on its tilted axis.
Without making light of the serious circumstance, I feel a bit like a food prisoner hungrily planning for my pending parole into the dining-out domain.
Though it might not be the very first night we decide to venture out, the proper celebratory dinner for the quarantine’s end will be at Circa 1875, going all out with the super-garlicky escargots and then a steak á point with a double order of frites. My wife will have the peerless Carolina brook trout and glazed carrots, stealing as many frites as she likes.
If it is a Tuesday or Wednesday, we will stroll off eight calories (each) down Broughton and end the evening at Leopold’s. A single scoop of either pistachio or coffee chocolate chip for me and what we have dubbed a ‘frozen latte’ for my wife: a scoop of coffee topped with as much whipped cream as the dish will hold.
Another schmancy liberation dinner will surely be at Cotton & Rye, enjoying a late-spring evening in the garden as the sun sets behind the rooftops and trees. I can only hope that the fried chicken skins are back on the starters board; if not, I will have the fried chicken thighs with the mac and cheese, and my wife will surely have the uncommonly delicious shrimp and grits.
In an ideal eating world, the next night, we would sit outside at Atlantic and share at least three delectable plates, the brimming traffic on Victory merely an ambient token of normalcy.
Nothing comforts like comfort food, so both to eat the food and to visit dear friends, the very first meal away from our home base will most likely be at Geneva’s Famous Chicken and Cornbread Co. We miss Geneva and Kenny Wade and their family and staff so much, even more than we miss their incomparable tenders, fried shrimp, and scratch-made sides.
Though I have made pizza twice in the last month, we yearn for any of Kyle Jacovino’s Pizzeria Vittoria Napoletana pies, and in that first visit back to Starland Yard, who knows what other food truck treats we will tuck into. Chances are more than likely that we will go out for pizza often when we release ourselves back into the eating wild, riding our bikes to both Squirrel’s and Green Fire, too.
Most of the food we love is the least expensive. We miss the slivered radishes and chopped pistachios in Bull Street Taco’s guacamole and its Chum’s taco. We miss the bacalaito hush puppies and the Cubano at 787 by Chazito’s. We miss the bottomless free chips and salsa and the empanadas and flautas at Tequila’s Town. We miss the fried yuca at Latin Chicks.
I will reintroduce myself to restaurants by eating plenty of professionally made burgers - plenty, I tell you - and thousands of properly fried fries. We will walk up to Green Truck and grab our usual seats at the bar: two classics with pimento cheese, please. One is for my wife, folks.
We miss sharing a high top at Crystal Beer Parlor, splitting a cheeseburger and the homemade chips or the giant pretzel with cheese sauce or an order of crispy wings. We will drive down to Culver’s for a double ButterBurger with cheese and a side of onion rings and not just to validate the inevitable frozen custard consumption after our dinner trays are cleared.
Speaking of fries, I long for an order of crispy shoestrings to go with a Bullet Club and a Perro Cubano at Sly’s. I will hammer a Bier Haus schnitzel with the Jager mushroom gravy and sides of spätzle and pommes frites, which I will share with my wife if she lets me have a few bites of whatever wurst she orders.
One Saturday morning, I want four peach fritters - the big ones - from Baker’s Pride, and on Sunday, I want to empty the case at Auspicious of its monkey bread. Any other morning, we will sit in the cozy courtyard behind Maté Factor with a cranberry-orange scone and the biggest sweet roll I can pick out.
On a random Thursday, we will do The Perry Street Special with tofu yellow curry and beef teriyaki at Fire Street Food followed by two of Gallery Espresso’s brownies, one with nuts (me) and one without (my wife).
For everyone who has continued to ‘eat out’ by ordering in via SAVtakeOut.com or other delivery services, goodonya - that is for Anthony Debreceny and everyone at his Southern Cross restaurants - and thank you for doing whatever you can to support Savannah eateries in this economic crisis.
Believe it or not, when I think of all of this food, I think of the people behind it, so many of whom have become dear friends since we moved to Savannah and started eating their fantastic food. We want to go to Nom Nom Poké Shop not only because Harold Schroeter and Ashley Mumbray make amazing poké bowls but also because they are amazing people, local owner-proprietors who deserve to succeed no matter what the universe scarily throws at all of us.
And we will wash it down with an iced horchata latte in the backyard at Foxy Loxy. As long as we are there, let us have a Hello Dolly bar and a cookie dough brownie.
Just in case.