Savannah is a city renowned for its history, architecture and antebellum charm. More recently, it’s gained a bit of a reputation as a foodie town. For better or worse, some of that reputation may be due to Paula “I’m not a chef but I play one on TV” Deen, and the hordes of Crocs-shod tourists that line up daily for a crack at the buffet at Deen’s restaurant, The Lady and Sons. I’d prefer to think that Savannah’s foodie rep has more to do with places like Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room and Elizabeth on 37th, the latter considered by many to be Savannah’s best restaurant. I was fortunate enough to eat at Elizabeth on a recent visit.
Located in a stately old mansion, the mood is elegant but not too stuffy. Chef Elizabeth Terry was a hot commodity in the early and mid-90s, taking home a James Beard Award in 1995, and has maintained her restaurant’s fine reputation since then. The menu is seafood heavy, as one might expect so close to the ocean, and the wine list is extensive (and expensive!).
After kicking things off with a solid round of appetizers, including fish two ways and clams, two of us ordered seafood and the third went for a pork loin. All of our dishes were great. My grouper “Celeste” (apparently named after one of Terry’s daughters) was delicious, though I did feel the peanut-heavy sauce overwhelmed the fish a bit. Nonetheless, the fish was perfectly cooked and accompanied by delicious potatoes and tasty pickled vegetables. Though I didn’t get a chance to taste the other entrees, the reports were very positive.
While the food was a success, what really stood out was the service. It was thoughtful and attentive without being smothering. While eating my entree, our waiter brought me a glass of a chardonnay that he thought was a great match with my grouper (and it was), even though we were already well into our second bottle of wine with the meal. You can never have too much wine, can you? Same goes for dessert, when our waiter brought out two different (and excellent) dessert wines, including an Italian Recioto that paired well with the chocolate cake that I had ordered.
Eating a great restaurant is a little more special when you’re on a vacation, especially when you are at a restaurant that exemplifies the best of what your destination has to offer. While there are several quality options in Savannah, Elizabeth on 37th should be at the top of any foodie’s list.