Recommended: YES! If you appreciate food at all, go now.
The odd old
abandoned-looking mansion at 37th and Drayton, Elizabeth’s, has long loomed over me as a must-eat restaurant in Savannah. It continually receives rave reviews, the highest ratings, and even a spot in the book 1000 Places to See Before You Die. It’s one of only two places mentioned in Savannah, GA, and NO, the other one isn’t Paula Deen’s. I finally had the opportunity to visit last Monday for our monthly “nice-dinner-out,” and it definitely didn’t disappoint.
From the moment we arrived, we were surrounded by a sea of attentive servers, assuring that our water glasses were never half empty. Our main waiter was knowledgeable, friendly, and extremely helpful. The only thing I can really complain about is the close proximity of the tables; fortunately, our neighbor table was speaking German, otherwise I feel I would have eavesdropped on their entire conversation. (It’s unavoidable!)
The food really blew me away. Such thought and care go into preparing each dish, that it’s amazing the prices are what they are. I know many people have complained to me about the prices, but all of the entrees are between $30 and $40 for a large portion, served with appropriate sides and a fresh house salad served with herbs from the garden. (Yes, they grow all their own herbs out back!)
The meal starts with a lovely batch of homemade biscuits, a bit warm; the type that really crumble in your mouth. It’s served with butter and homemade orange marmalade which is absolutely decadent. We ate two baskets of biscuits alone, and not because we were that hungry. The marmalade is delicious; with a little butter, it’s like an orange melting in your mouth.
Next, onto the appetizer. We decided to try out one of their specials: 2 sea scallops with diced sashimi grade tuna and cabbage piled on top in a sweet and tangy marinade and a light wasabi cream sauce drizzled on top. They were served to us one each on our own serving plate so that we could each dig in and truly experience the dish. The combination of flavors was a masterpiece, and the scallop was well prepared. It wasn’t quite melt-in-your-mouth (like Noble Fare) but it was still one of the best scallops I’ve ever tasted. It’s also worth mentioning that this was the first and only time I didn’t gag at the smell of wasabi. It was just the slightest hint of wasabi, making it delicious.
Chef’s tasting was a single mussel which I believe had been baked (to perfection) in something garlic-y and tomato-y, then dabbed with some slightly spiced aioli. My boyfriend described it as “the best mussel I’ve ever had.” It was a bit of a shame that the mussels weren’t on the menu as a full appetizer because they really were delicious.
The house salad I would assume changes with the seasons based on the availability of herbs. Our salad was some chopped mixed greens, sprinkled with some minced mint and what may have been thyme? I’m not entirely sure. It was served with a bit of cantaloupe, some fine bits of goat cheese (I believe!) and was tossed in a very light dressing. The first bite is a bit unexpected because of the mint and herb flavor, but you quickly realize that new and different aren’t always bad; in fact, those herbs grow on you – fast – and getting the perfect bite (with fruit, cheese, herb and greens) makes the salad as much a challenge as it is enjoyable.
Finally, the main course. We both ordered specials; I got the black sea bass over Gullah rice with a “salad” of sliced cucumber, tomato and onion in a light vinaigrette. The bass was mild and delicious, a softer fish than what I usually enjoy, but perfectly complimented by the almost crunchy bits in the rice. I can’t even identify all of the vegetables in there, but I saw some celery which shocked me since I normally hate celery. I had to fish out a few bits of bacon since they forgot that I asked for the rice without, but I’m sure the bacon gives it some of its nice, smoky flavor. And the crispness of the salad, a bit sweet, but in a different way than the rice and salad really made the dish feel complete.
My boyfriend ordered the other special, a red snapper that absolutely melted in your mouth. Whatever it was prepared over had ham in it which is why I refrained from ordering it, but the snapper itself was delicious. And it was served with a corn pudding, which I’ve never had before. It was like a little scoop of creamed corn with more cream than corn, and a nicely browned top to make it ever-so-slightly crisp.
So the food was amazing, the service was outstanding, and I will definitely be back. My favorite restaurant in Savannah will remain Alligator Soul, but maybe if I get to try out a more autumnal menu at Elizabeth on 37th’s . . .