Southern hospitality, gut-busting food charm E. A.
I have heard a great deal about the historic architecture and notable people, events, and landmarks that Savannah, GA, is known for: the filming of Forrest Gump, and Savannah's founder Ogelthorpe who has one of the 22 squares named after him, to name two. This Eating Adventurer was looking forward to being a little touristy and taking a hop-on, hop-off trolley ride through the beautiful downtown area, complete with strolls down bustling River Street on the expansive river and views of St. John's Cathedral. However, one of the reasons I was most excited to visit Savannah was to get my hands on some good old Southern food, or at least SOMETHING embodying southern cooking.
We ventured to Alligator Soul, which was a classy downtown restaurant with everything from shrimp and grits (on almost every menu I saw in Savannah) to crawfish, bacon and roux breaded and stuffed oysters and even an 'Exotic Specialty' menu item. Hearty, rich flavors were a trend at the restaurant and throughout my stay in Savannah.
My favorite meal was - shocker - brunch. I'm sure glad we made a reservation at b. Matthew's Eatery, as it is known for hour-long waits any time of day. This isn't at all surprising, considering it is known as "one of Savannah's most popular restaurants in the Landmark Historic District." If you didn't know to look on the corner of Bay Street for the tiny building with the trademark red typeface, it would have been pretty easy to miss it. On entering, we easily saw how it could fill up fast, the quaint dining area having roughly a dozen or so full tables of all sizes with a bar area that spanned over half of one of the walls. The windows provided the only light, which provided a cozy ambiance greatly aided by the rustic decor and brick walls, which gave it an authentic southern feel. Not to mention that the worn-in bar looked fully stocked and had a cool speakeasy vibe.
After our party of five was seated, to my delight we decided to start with a shareable order of Biscuits and Gravy, $5.25. If anyone has dined with me before, they probably know my extreme love of biscuits, one of my favorite Southern goodies. It took barely five minutes for the server to bring out the appetizer, as well as my dad's Bloody Mary, which he said was one of the best he's ever had and he is PICKY about alcoholic beverages. As far as the biscuits were concerned, this was the real deal, the chunky sausage gravy being very cohesive and flavorful with the fluffy, yet dense biscuits.
While breakfast and lunch are only served during the weekdays, brunch is served on Saturdays and Sundays. The brunch menu was laden with unique southern-style eggs Benedicts and omelets as well as a handful of breakfast and lunch options complete with such southern fixings as fried green tomatoes, black-eyed peas, and, of course, shrimp and grits. This would have been my ideal diverse menu if only it all didn't sound so good and didn't make my decision a challenging one! I was torn between the Fried Duck and Waffle, the Seared Salmon BLT (on a biscuit!), and the Benedicts. However, as mentioned in previous posts, I love a good breakfast hash, so I ordered the Bay Street Scramble, $9.
This was different than the usual hash dish, as it had scrambled eggs instead of over-easy. The protein was scrambled with all the veggies and meat I love in these types of dishes: a generous helping of tender bacon, mushrooms, tomato and green onion. A hearty layer of cheddar cheese blanketed the eggs, which actually played well into the flavorful garlic-herb hollandaise poured over top. I got the best of both worlds with this dish, as I love the hollandaise typical of eggs Benedict without the soggy bread underneath. Also, the breakfast potatoes were cooked just right. Knowing my love of biscuits, my boyfriend, Thomas, gave me his and I devoured them. They were unlike any I'd consumed before, more yellowy biscuit dense yet moist all at once. I do think they could have been a tad better if warmer, but I was in Southern biscuit heaven nonetheless. The cheese grits I ordered on the side were cooked perfectly, not over-churned and soupy or too hard and thick. The cheese also didn't overpower the true grit flavor, which I appreciated.
My dad and brother both ordered the Crab Benedict, $10, and as soon as I saw the beautifully crafted presentation, I almost regretted my order. Judging by the picture, how could you not marvel at how delicious it looks? Between bites, the only reaction I could get out of them was "Yum" or "It's really good." They may have not been a descriptive bunch, but the overall silence indicated full mouths and the clean plates sure seemed like a successful meal.
There are so many delicious and uniquely-crafted brunch menu items to entice me to venture back to B. Matthew's brunch again. The lunch and dinner menus also sound inviting. Aside from the tasty food and friendly service, the care and quality that was put into each dish was a refreshing aspect of our meal. Also, the value was superb for the large southern-size quantity each of us received. I am already planning the next time I can visit this beautiful city with all of its heartwarming hospitality and gut-busting southern food. FOLLOW THIS LINK for a complete b. Matthews menu.