America offers many culinary destinations, where visitors need to eat meals as much as they need to visit attractions. Such destinations offer history and culture through the cuisine. Savannah, Georgia is one such place.
Ever since recording the Sweetness of Savannah, a Staying Adventurous podcast, I’ve always wanted to return and eat at one particular restaurant my podcast guest interviews recommended - The Grey.
With the name taken from the old Greyhound bus station where it currently resides, it showcases an elaborate southern fare, through local sourcing and a dedicated menu and acclaimed chef’s story highlighted on a Netflix Chef’s Table episode, All this and most importantly, it also rewrites the segregated history of the location to create a better today. A delicious today.
Dinning in “coivd times,” the restaurant pursues a pre-fixe menu for main dining with a-la carte options still available from the bar seating. For those hungry there is a six course ($85pp), we opted for more reasonable four course ($65pp). The menu also includes detailed wine descriptions and some “not-to-miss” vintage cocktails and oysters ar market.
A Table Reserved, Dinner Served
Stopping in Savannah for the night from a southbound road trip, I set the waze directly to the restaurant to stop in an attempt to secure a reservation in person, since the only accept them in limited hours during the day. The personal touch was rewarded and we secured one of the few open tables available for 8pm.
Sitting in view of a window of oysters, the four course menu was selected with an additional starter – the oysters. The waitress explained the two types, the local from Georgia (one hour away) and the “imported” from South Carolina (one and a half hour distance). Both a touch meaty and tad briny according to our attentive waitress. Both delighted, but dare I admit the Capers Blades (South Carolina) were my favorite. Maybe they matched my vintage cocktail the Father John’s La Lousiane best.
Then the duck liver arrived presented well and probably one of the best styles of pate that I’ve ever tasted. The perfect spread paired well with the seasoned toasts. A dish, I was not afraid to spread put the finger to smear off every last morsel. One can only remain so civilized and since we were already eating oysters with our hands, why not?
Next up, the Hoppin John, a rice dish made from Carolina gold rice and local peas, became a quality go between the two protein focused dishes. It allowed time to reflect on the moment and more time for our ordered wine, a Bordeaux to open.
Chicken Galantine - Southern Style
The final course before dessert, I remained hesitant about. To be honest, I essentially stopped eating chicken over the last two years, and only entertain it on special occasion or on specialty dishes. I nearly ordered the six course meal to steer me away, but this evening qualified special. And after I looked up Chicken Galantine, a French classic, I wanted to see and specifically taste celebrated chef Mashama Bailey who trained in France would deliver. I am glad I did. The de-boned chicken wrapped up in its crispy skin to create a sense of a sausage style slice delivered a unique and deliciousness.
Grits for Dessert - Absolutely
Dessert not listed specifically on the menu was the “pie of the day.” The included option, a grits cheesecake, scored points for uniqueness as the other option a chocolate dish was worthy of selection too.
The Grey escaped me on my last visits to Savannah, but not this time. This once segregated bus stop turned colorful and celebrated restaurant, became a most worthy dinner detour for me on my recent road trip to Florida. The experience became not just a stop to refuel the body, but also a chance to refuel the soul. Dining here became not solely a chance to appreciate fine local cuisine, but a reminder to appreciate how far we’ve come as a society. And to me that’s one of the best joys of America, our delicious progress.
The reasons such segregation policies took place to create a once discriminatory bus station in America’s past are not forgotten, but patrons here can also appreciate where we are today, and experience it all inside one of the best restaurants the south offers. The Grey took a place, a scar from the American Experience and made it special through a love of culture, a love of food, and a love for a place, the south. This special place does not just showcase how to take southern cuisine to new heights, but also how we’ve taken our society to new heights too.
We can all certainly toast to that.
Clockwise from 12 - Side Car, Father John La Louisiane, Feet Don't Fail Me Now
Stay luxurious, Craig