This onsite review originally appeared in the August 2011 edition of Recommend Magazine.
There’s a certain something about Savannah that can only be described as mystical. With a history dating back to 1733, each perfectly preserved building, cobblestone street and giant oak draped with moss seems to tell a story of bygone times. In fact, the city even harbors its fair share of ghost tales.
And while its history and Old World charm are reason enough to delight visitors, Savannah’s thriving culinary scene is a whole other treat to experience. From traditional Southern comfort food, to some sinfully delicious sweets, Savannah should definitely be on any foodie’s must-visit list.
“Savannah has a youthful exuberance about her cuisine,” says Jonathan Massey, executive chef of Rocks on the River and Rocks on the Roof, located in the Bohemian Hotel Savannah Riverfront. “In my eight years here, I have seen a remarkable increase in the quality of food and the appreciation by the locals. It’s great to see our chefs embrace the Southern comfort food that has lasted generations, but refining it at their own restaurants.” Even better, he adds enthusiastically, “We are in a kind of cool growth spurt right now.”
Southern Comforts…With a Twist We’ll start this culinary journey at two top hotels to book and their to-die-for restaurants. The first charmer is the Bohemian Hotel Savannah Riverfront, a member of the Kessler Collection and the first property we stayed at during our visit. Set on the city’s vibrant River Street, the Bohemian Hotel Savannah Riverfront offers a contemporary ambiance in the city’s historic district, close to shopping, dining and transportation.
Located on the property’s first floor is Rocks on the River Modern Grill, a trendy restaurant that offers a modern twist on traditional American comfort food. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Rocks on the River serves up dishes like fried grouper with blue cheese coleslaw, meatloaf made with beef and Italian sausage, cheddar and jalapeno corn bread, and one of our favorites, chicken and waffle sliders with boursin cheese and pepper jam.
For pre- or post-dinner cocktails, tell your clients to head up to Rocks on the Roof. Complete with a cozy fire pit and live entertainment, Rocks on the Roof is the only rooftop bar in Savannah and boasts impressive views of the river and the historic district. The menu offers tapas-style selections ranging from sandwiches and burgers to appetizers like oyster shooters, as well as a wide selection of drinks.
The Bohemian Hotel itself features just 72 guestrooms, each adorned with wood, brass and leather design elements inspired by the 18th century era of maritime settlers. In some rooms, you’ll even find large chandeliers made completely out of shell, hanging above the beds. Every guestroom, as well as the lobby and other common spaces throughout the hotel, also showcase an extensive collection of artwork, a staple of the Kessler brand. From vintage couches in the lobby to unique lighting fixtures and paintings in the restaurant, each piece has a different tale to tell, much like Savannah itself.
Rates at the Bohemian Hotel Savannah Riverfront start at $179 per night. For more information, call (888) 213-4024 or visit bohemianhotelsavannah.com.
Our culinary adventure continues at the Mansion on Forsyth Park Hotel & Spa, a restored Victorian mansion that is also part of the Kessler Collection. Though definitely more traditional in look and feel, the Mansion on Forsyth Park still exudes an energy as chic and stylish as its sister property, the Bohemian.
Located within the original portion of the historic home, which also houses an impressive art collection, including a vintage ladies’ hat collection dating back to 1860, guests will find the celebrated 700 Drayton Restaurant, a must for lunch or dinner. This elegant and romantic dining venue serves up a variety of Savannah coastal cuisine, from seafood to chophouse steaks and other local favorites. Some of our choice menu items here include the jumbo lump crab with green mango timbale and the fried green tomatoes.
After dinner, guests can head up the leopard-patterned stairway to Cashmir’s Lounge where they can enjoy cocktails, live jazz and blues performances and an outdoor terrace that overlooks Forsyth Park.