Courtesy of Quentin Bacon (The Grey). Courtesy of Andrew Thomas Lee (The Forence). Clockwise from above: The Grey; Chef Mashama; the Florence; Seafood Boudin.
With cinematic Spanish moss dangling from its trees and weathered cemeteries seemingly around every corner, Savannah, Ga., feels like a city that’s frozen in time.And when it comes to its food, it was. For years, its decadent, rib-sticking fare offered plenty of soul (and breading), but it lacked any real surprises — until now. Enter The Grey (TheGreyRestaurant.com), the leader of a new guard of restaurants that are giving a fresh face to the town’s food scene.
When you visit this art deco haven, located in a renovated Greyhound Bus terminal, you’ll get ample down-home goodness, but without the usual suspects (cue the fried chicken and pimento cheese). Credit is due to its chef, Mashama Bailey, for helping spark Savannah’s culinary renaissance. “Its historic district in particular,” she says, “is similar to an up-and-coming New York City neighborhood undergoing its food transformation.”
Bailey is a native of New York and cut her chops in the kitchen of its famed eatery Prune, but she knew when creating the Grey’s menu that she couldn’t stray far from her new home’s palate. She was, after all, cooking for a place awash in tradition. So she seeks to update rather than reinvent. “What’s old is new,” she says. “If you are well-researched, there is always a way to bring an interesting twist to a dish people think they’ve seen before.” The Grey’s boudin, for example, is stuffed with seafood, while its rice grits are spikedwith locally sourced sunchokes. Cracklins are served on a bed of pickled oysters, rather than by the bagful.
And the Grey is in good company. Housed in a former ice factory, Georgia favorite Hugh Acheson’s new venture, The Florence (TheFlorenceSavannah.com), works ingre-dients from surrounding farms into creative Italian fare. Meanwhile, if you want casual fun with high-quality eats, don’t missThe Wyld (TheWyldDockBar.com), which pairs locally sourced seafood with boozy slushies and bocce ball.
Better yet, the chefs behind this new hospitality are confident that more great things are coming. “What’s been going on for some time in Charleston, Atlanta, and other places in the South is now happening here,” says Bailey. “We’re thrilled to bea small part of it.” So for those who prefer their culinary adventures with a sideof Southern comfort, your table awaits.
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