Monthly Archives: April 2007

Vic’s on the River – Savannah, GA

 For me, the best restaurants are located somewhat off the beaten path if you know what I mean, or at least that has been the case for quite some time now.  By ‘beaten path’ in this situation, I am referring toRiver Street.  Yes, it is beautiful, historic, but I think we can all agree it does not get more ‘touristy’ than this.  The restaurants on River Street are just that – touristy.  I have never ‘recommended’ someone to a restaurant on River Street for the food – maybe for the atmosphere, view and location, but for the food…no.  Until Now…. 

I went to Vic’s on the River for lunch the other day and I was pleasantly surprised with all aspects of this restaurant.  Not only is the restaurant located in a beautifully decorated and renovated old cotton warehouse that overlooks the Savannah River and River Street easily accessed by River Street or Bay Street, but Vic’s offers some wonderful dishes that reflect the charm and beauty of Savannah with a culinary twist.  

For my appetizer I had to try the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake with remoulade and three pepper relish.  As we all know in Savannah, a crab cake is sometimes a measurement tool for restaurant owners as well as diners – everywhere you go they claim they have the best in town yet they are all quite different from one another.  I would have to say, in this case, it was a very, very, very good crab cake.  I was honestly shocked at how good it really was.  There was little, if any, filler.  The crab cake was kind of small, but what lacked in size was replaced with plenty of fresh crab meat.  Although, I will say, as I am writing this review I noticed the word “Jumbo” in the name of this appetizer – I did not see any “Jumbo” lump crab in my cake – Lump crab yes, Jumbo no – unless it was mixed too much during prep and the lumps were destroyed – regardless, it was very good. 

My lunch consisted of the Fried Green Tomato BLT with goat cheese and sun dried tomato pesto on toasted sourdough with a side of fresh collard greens.  Let me start by saying that I love goat cheese so much if you were to spread it on cardboard I would eat it!! Anyway, back on the subject… This sandwich had so much going on with it I could not resist ordering.  The combination of flavors and textures that were offered in this sandwich was right up my alley.  The portion size was more than enough and the flavors blended together so nicely it was refreshing to get such a gourmet sandwich with a southern flair – and on River Street– Wow!!  Obviously, I have only sampled a very small portion of their offerings, their dinner menu looks wonderful as well with items such as Pan seared Jumbo Scallops with goat cheese grit cakes, wilted arugula and lemon herb truffle butter and Cedar Plank Roasted Salmon with sautéed collard greens, goat cheese grit cakes and blackberry coulis – my stomach is growling now! I will be back for dinner!

So, as you can tell by my review, I was very impressed with Vic’s on the River.  I think that Vic’s fills a needed void on River Street– Upscale dining, beautiful atmosphere and wonderful Southern food with a culinary twist.  As long as they keep their integrity and continue the good work – I will recommend Vic’s on the River with confidence!   Main Dining RoomVic’s on the River15 East River Street/26 East Bay Street
Savannah, GA  31401 –
912-721-1000   www.vicsontheriver.com

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Tantra Lounge & Tapas – Savannah

I have noticed from riding down Broughton Street many times the wonderful red lanterns that hang from the ceiling of the Tantra Lounge & Tapas restaurant, and frankly, this has been the number one attraction that peaked my curiosity to check it out. 

Early last night I went there and by the way, the lanterns are just as wonderful inside as the view from outside.  The décor is sparse but I liked it.  They have a wonderful bar space, but I do wish the wooden structure that holds the bottles behind the bar were painted a bright red to carry your eyes from the lovely red lanterns around the room better.  So, visually, improvements could be made to increase the ‘eye’ traffic.  They do have a nice sitting area for casual conversation that I am sure is packed on the weekends, but this was during the week and pretty early, so not many people were there. 

The menu consists of Asian-influenced Tapas items, which sounded good to me.  I love Thai and Vietnamese food so this should be a win-win situation, right?….well, maybe not quite right.  I had the Nam Sod which I am a huge fan of, if it is authentic.  The problem with Tantra’s Nam Sod is that it did not taste like Nam Sod should taste.  I think that most people that are not too familiar with Thai food would not recognize the difference, but I have worked with a Thai chef and have worked at a Thai restaurant – so, authentic Thai food – I do know…at this was not.  In fact, it was not even close.  This was a poor attempt on their part to make a traditional Thai dish without the traditional ingredients and pass it off to unsuspecting diners as the ‘real deal’.  

Other dishes that were had by my group were the Crispy Calamari, which was good Calamari, but nothing to write home about and the sauce that was served with it was not that tasty.  We also had the Bo Kho’, the Vietnamese style beef stew, which was wonderful.  I think out of all the dishes this was the best and most satisfying.  I am not very familiar with the traditional Bo Kho’ so as the ‘unsuspecting diner’ that I was, I would have to assume it was the ‘real deal’.  Lastly, my “American” food lover of the group had the Mini Angus Burgers, which actually fell into a close second behind the Bo Kho’ – they were yummy…then again, not hard to mess this one up I suppose. 

Overall, Tantra Lounge & Tapas was ok.  I think visually it is very exciting.  They have some great live music and the overall atmosphere is nice.  I think they could do some improvements with the food, but that is just my opinion, although, in their name…Tantra Lounge & Tapas…if their food was really the focus, Tapas would be before Lounge – it is obvious what their target is, and that, they do alright with. 

Tantra Lounge & Tapas –8 East Broughton Street–Savannah GA 31401

The Soho South Cafe – Savannah GA

It has been many years since I have been to Soho South Café on Liberty Street so it was way past due for me to check it out again.   What I liked about it years ago and what I continue to like it for today remains the same.  The Soho South Café is truly a “Ladies” café.  I am not sure if they aimed their sights from the beginning this way, my guess would be that they did.  From the ‘shabby chic’ décor, crafty artwork, multiple fabric usages, dainty chandeliers and girly-girl gifts that range from purses, hats, jewelry, artwork and more – it is hard to believe you are actually in a restaurant that serves tasty food as well. 

The Soho South Café is for women what a general sports bar is for men.  The
Soho is light, airy, cheerful and eclectic, and their menu is to match.  Their lunch menu consist of items such as wonderful soups, quiches, ‘lady-like’ salads and creative sandwiches such as Ham, Brie & apple baguette, grilled salmon BLT and grilled Tuna wasabi.  I have not been here for dinner or brunch yet, but that menu also looks wonderful – that will be another trip!
 For my lunch I had the Chicken Pesto Panini with a house salad.  The salad was served on the plate with the sandwich and consisted of assorted greens and a light vinaigrette dressing.  The sandwich was perfectly toasted and very flavorful and the overall presentation of the plate was very nice.  The service, on my visit, was very good – we had a very friendly, smiling, lovely server that was very attentive to our needs. 

Basically, for a casual, but ‘lady-like’ lunch with the “girls”, this is a total spot-on restaurant!  The Soho South Café does not skimp on décor details to keep your eye roving, which is a wonderful conversation piece on its own and the menu is very reflective of the total theme.   This is one of the ‘cutest’ restaurants I have ever seen – from a ‘girly-girls’ point of view of course. 

Soho South Café –12 West Liberty Street-Savannah, GA 31401 – 912-233-1633 www.sohosouthcafe.com

Jazz’d Tapas Bar – Savannah GA

I was able to visit Jazz’d Tapas Bar last week to celebrate my birthday with a few friends.  The atmosphere at Jazz’d is hip, cool, sleek yet amazingly comfortable.  The setting is very stylish and attractive, which I would be willing to guess the patrons that frequent Jazz’d is to match.  Of course, when we went, it was the middle of the week, so there was not much of a crowd at that time, but it did not matter – I was with my own crowd, and that was plenty! 

The menus (and I say that plural due to the extensive drink menu as well as the Tapas menu) are fun, lively and interesting.  The only difficult choice you will make while you are there is what outstanding item to choose as your delightful treasure for the evening.   

I started with the yummy, fabulous Caramel Apple Martini (I could not resist)!  I had this last time also, but it was so tasty – what a better way to start the evening.  Jazz’d does have a fabulous wine list along with their flavored and classic martinis and Jazz’d specialties.  I was able to taste the Mango Mojito also (I will be ordering that as my first drink on the next visit – yummy!).  

For our Tapas choices, we ordered a few different ones and shared.  Which is how Tapas is meant to be eaten anyway.   The Baked Cheese Terra Cotta Plate was my favorite.  It has 4 seasonal cheeses baked to melting, served with roasted garlic, fresh fruit and toasted baguettes.  The cheese was excellent.  I am not positive what the names of the cheeses were, but they were different (in a fantastic way), and when garlic is roasted it actually turns sweet and mild – wonderful addition to the cheeses.  The Mediterranean Shrimp Scampi consisted of shrimp and chorizo sautéed in garlic butter served over fried beefsteak tomato with olives and feta.  Don’t let the garlic scare you.  Like I said, have it, share it, then no one really has garlic breath!!  It is worth it – very, very good.  We also had the Cuban Rubbed Beef Satays and the Chicken Lettuce Wrap.  Both of these were very good, they just didn’t make me say “wow” like the other choices that we sampled. Basically, for a lovely, entertaining place to have good conversation, fabulous drinks and tasty Tapas – this is a wonderful, wonderful establishment.  The prices are within reason given the quality of food and drink that they offer.   

The outstanding thing about Jazz’d is you could go every week, enjoy some great music and hopefully great company and never have the same combination of food and drink twice.

Jazz’d Tapas Bar

Jazz’d Tapas Bar –52 Barnard St-Savannah, GA 31401 – 912-236-7777

www.jazzdsavannah.com  

J.Christopher’s – Hitting the Nail on the Head!

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Quite some time ago on my drive to work everyday, I would pass a building that in my mind would make for a great restaurant location.  The building was in need of some tender loving care, but it had character and it was in a great location.  It was an old garage on Liberty Street that looked from the outside not to be much, but in my mind I could see that it could be a very lucrative spot for a fun restaurant.   

As time went by I could see that someone had obtained this location and was developing it as a restaurant, I was very interested to see what would be done with it and would my vision come to light. 

That spot is now home to J.Christopher’s, serving breakfast, brunch and lunch everyday from 7 am to 2 pm.  And I might say, doing it quite well, to say the least (And yes, not only did my vision come to light, it has exceeded all of my expectations I am proud to say!) 

I have been here several times and my opinion of it has not changed from the first visit.  The restaurant has every quality that a great establishment should have.  The décor is fun, bright and fresh and the whole atmosphere of the restaurant in general is fast paced yet relaxing, friendly and inviting.  The staff is attentive and all are dressed in brightly colored shirts which add to the wonderful colors the restaurant displays in their interesting artwork that decks the walls from top to bottom.  They also have outside seating that is wonderful in Savannah and a plus for any dining establishment. 

I have had several items on the menu ranging from breakfast to lunch and all have been very pleasing to the taste buds as well as to the eye.  Although, you should not think of this as just an ordinary “Breakfast” joint, the menu if very diverse – ranging from omelets, eggs Benedict (several different ways), skillet combos, wonderful salads & soups  and great sandwiches.  They also have Seasonal Favorites such as Crème Brule French Toast, Chocolate Crepes, Praline Waffle, Roasted Pork Reuben and Kahlua Waffle!! Yummy!!!  

 J.Christopher’s is by far, my favorite breakfast/brunch restaurant and when you do try it, if you haven’t already, I am confident you will feel the same way.  During the weekend, there could possibly be a wait for seating, but they also have a little ‘breakfast bar’ area you can sit at that accommodates diners not requiring a booth or table and for this, there is not usually a wait, at least not as long (And by the way, if there is a wait – it is worth it!). 

Overall, this restaurant is a must-visit place that should be frequented by locals as well as those visiting Savannah.  I highly recommend this restaurant and while you are there take the time to enjoy and soak in everything it has to offer – great food, fantastic atmosphere and a delightful staff!  The experience totally makes you feel like you witnessing the beginning of a neighborhood classic! 

  J.Christopher’s Breakfast, Brunch and Lunch – 122 E. Liberty StreetSavannah, GA 31401 – 912-236-74947 am – 2 pm – 7 days a week

www.jchristophers.com

(They also have 12 Metro Atlanta locations and one in
Tampa, FL !!)