#USRoadTrip1 – A Savannah Dinner

Savannah's magnificent Spanish Moss

Savannah’s magnificent Spanish Moss

I’ve been tweeting about our road trip, but Savannah needs more than tweets. It’s a city so weird that it defies pith. First, it looks like nowhere else – all that Spanish moss hanging off ancient oak trees with branches that sprawl like crooked fingers give the town a primordial atmosphere. You can imagine that before the grand mansions rose up around them, dinosaurs walked among those oaks.

The differences between Savannah and Charleston (our previous stop) are immediately striking: Charleston is buffed and polished; Savannah is peeling and disintegrating. Confederate flags fly in Charleston. Savannah flies no Confederate flags. Charleston is proud of its monuments to Confederate heroes; Savannah prizes its moving dockside memorial to the slaves who disembarked there. In Savannah’s stately, ungroomed squares bums of all creeds and colours sprawl, drinking; you won’t see a bum in Charleston.

Tonight we caught a flavour of the exotic Savannah captured with such colour by John Berendt in his non-fiction bestseller ‘Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil’. We dined at Elizabeth’s On 37th Street. We went anticipating a stuffy fine dining experience as Elizabeth’s is recognised to be Savannah’s best special occasion restaurant. Our experience was anything but.

Lovely Elizabeth On 37th

Lovely Elizabeth On 37th

Housed in a vast antebellum mansion in the suburbs, Elizabeth’s flouts all conventions of ‘grandness’. Perhaps because the weather had been unseasonably cold, the grounds were looking scrubby and an alarming jagged crack in the centre of the pediment gave the impression that the building was about to split in two.

Inside we discovered a scene of loud joviality. Dining rooms spread out from a central hall, each well spaced table filled with groups of families, girls together, couples… I had the sense that most were locals from the eclectic dress sense of the women. In Brooklyn or the Upper West Side you’ll find a prevailing ‘look’. In Savannah the prevailing look is ‘odd’. There was a lovely young woman in a straw cloche; a brassy amazon in spike heels and a Mugler-style fierce leather jacket; a perfect Dusty Springfield beehive on a grande dame by the fire… Their consorts were uniformly gruff of appearance, usually in ill-fitting jeans. The occasional toupee was spotted.

The staff were all slightly dishevelled in their classic waiter livery. Our 60-something waiter had long, straggly grey hair and wore Krishna-like beads on his arm. The beads, it turned out, had been given to him by the Dalai Lama and he himself had been a Nobel Peace Prize runner-up, nominated for his work on behalf of Tibet. It was all true. He showed us his invite to the ceremony and the pictures of himself with the Dalai Lama.

The food? Well, in this atmosphere it hardly mattered but it was mainly delicious. A salad starter of ‘house made’ mozzarella had too little unremarkable cheese and two much vinegar, but my main course of sea bass with creamy mashed potato, some kind of ‘jus’ and some veg  (I’m no foodie but I know what I like) was delicious. I ate every scrap and I don’t even like fish. My husband’s plate of salmon on some stuff with another kind of ‘jus’ would have been licked clean if we hadn’t been in public. My son ate all his chicken and had cheesecake with a goat cheese topping for dessert that was spectacular.

We sat for a while and when we left the unseasonably cold air outside seemed more freezing than ever.

P.S. If you have the chance to dine at Elizabeth On 37th and find yourself needing the toilet a tip: use the right-hand loo behind the reception desk. It has a bed in it. Not a chaise longue. A bed. A single bed. Lovely, weird Elizabeth On 37th.

3 Responses to “#USRoadTrip1 – A Savannah Dinner”

  1. Really enjoyed reading your blog after discovering it via @presentsqueen on Twitter. Thank you for making my daily catch up on social media with a cup of tea so enjoyable this morning. Look forward to the next instalment 🙂

  2. Thank you I really enjoyed reading your blog this morning with my cup of tea. I found you via @presentsqueen on Twitter and am looking forward to reading the next instalment!

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