Thursday, March 15, 2018

Winter trek, Part XVII:
Dining out during winter trek 2018

On winter trek 2018, Lee Ann and I did the majority of our dining out in Savannah. There, we made a third visit to The Lady and Sons, while also trying out The Olde Pink House, the Original Pub, the Crystal Beer Parlor and Goose Feathers Cafe and Bakery.

The dining out we did in St. Augustine consisted of a late lunch at the Salt Life Food Shack on the first night and lunch at the Columbia Restaurant the second afternoon and, for dinner that night, a pizza baked in our room. We bought the pizza from a Papa Murphy's (technically, not dining out, but ... we did have to go out to get the pizza. However, given the common nature of Papa Murphy pizza, it will not be included in this roundup).

In the Florida Keys, the only eateries we stopped at were the Sunset Grille and Raw Bar in Marathon for dinner one night (a return visit) and Sloppy Joe's in Key West for lunch (also a return visit) on the last full day there. And in Ormond Beach, it was just the Black Sheep Pub and House, which was for a late lunch/early dinner one of the full days we were there.

Otherwise, with our budget depleted from attraction admission fees and vehicle fuel during the trek, we made a point to eat as much self-prepared food as we could. The overview below of places where we dined omits The Lady and Sons, 102 W. Congress St., Savannah. We visited there twice previously, and because that eatery's main attraction -- it's southern cooking buffet featuring fried chicken -- is what we enjoyed each time we went there, I didn't think it was important (or necessary) to repeat it.

The photo leading off the post is a detail shot from our table at the Columbia Restaurant in St. Augustine. Our visit there is discussed under the St. Augustine header below.

Most of the pictures (all of the actual food pictures, for sure) in this post were taken with my iPhone X; a few -- usually the exterior shots, but also a few indoor pictures -- were taken with my Canon 6D and Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD lens.


The Olde Pink House

On our first visit to Savannah in March 2017, we asked people there to recommend the best places for fried chicken. Almost unanimously, people cited The Lady and Sons and Mrs. Wilkes' Dining Room. A couple others were mentioned -- it's possible that one of those was The Olde Pink House, but for reasons I don't remember (memory fade?), we never made it there on either of the first two visits (March and December 2017). 

Lee Ann and I concurred with the recommendations for Lady and Sons and Mrs. Wilkes' ... even though we weren't quite as eager to return to Mrs. Wilkes' on the second visit for three reasons -- the much more limited service hours (11 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays, closed in January), the long wait outside (unless you arrive super early before 11 a.m. opening) ... and the fact that Mrs. Wilkes' accepts only cash. When we were there in March 2017, this last detail caught many people in the waiting line by surprise -- and unprepared -- when they finally reached the door to be seated. We were one of those who weren't aware of the cash-only policy, but fortunately, we had enough on hand.

When we arrived in Savannah two months ago, we again asked around about fried chicken places. This time we heard The Old Pink House, 23 Abercorn St., come up first several times. Like the others, it was within relative walking distance from our lodge. (One of the best things about Savannah is that so much of interest is in the old city area, all of which is within walking distance of any hotel in the downtown vicinity). So we went there over the lunch hour on our last full day in Savannah.

As shown in the first photo below, The Olde Pink House is in a converted 18th-century mansion. It has several dining areas inside (matching the various rooms in the old residence), and when weather is pleasant, there is seating available outdoors as well, as shown in the photo below. We were seated in a modest table next to a window and very close to the main-level bar. 

I had the (surprise!) fried chicken; Lee Ann turned to her southern-cooking old faithful: fried chicken livers with rice and greens. We shared a slice of cornbread, and since I hadn't had any key lime pie for a while, I chose to have some for dessert. Those dinners and dessert are shown below beneath pictures of the bar area next to us. 

The chicken was excellent. It might even surpass The Lady and Sons for the best I'd had in Savannah. 

The Oridinary Pub

On other days, we solicited recommendations on other dining places within walking distance from our lodge, and we checked a few of those out for lunch earlier in the week.

For a mid-afternoon meal one day, it was The Ordinary Pub, 217 W. Broughton St. Broughton is considered Savannah's main commercial thoroughfare, and indeed, it is packed with shops, stores, eateries and pubs. The Ordinary Pub is distinct because ... it's underground. It's described as being "located in the boutique shopping area of Broughton Street," but I think is just code for "underground." You have to walk down steps from the main street to get into the pub.

We got there at 3 p.m. -- perfect timing for two house daily specials: weekday brunch 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and bottomless mimosas and "daily breaks" drink specials (including $5 draft beers) 3 to 7 p.m. Lee Ann ordinarily doesn't drink much alcohol, but she decided she'd let herself go and do the mimosas thing. I went with a draft craft beer (which is my usual preference with dining out).

For food, Lee Ann opted for the Mac and Cheese Morning (fifth photo below) off the brunch menu. It consisted of pasta shells smothered with a Gouda cheese sauce, diced ham, diced tomatoes, green bell peppers and bacon topped with a fried egg. It was a huge plate -- more than plenty for her. She had to take half of it back to the room. But she liked it.

I ordered a Savannah burger off the main menu. It's a sandwich of beef and pork, bacon and pimento cheese on a fresh-baked bun (I ask them to hold the pickled jalapenos). The sandwich came with one side, and I got tater tots as shown in the fourth photo photo below.

Our meals were so filling that we had to take Lee Ann's uneaten pasta and half of my sandwich back to the room. My beer was an IPA from SweetWater Brewing Co. in Atlanta, and it was fresh and delicious.

Our server was excellent, which is why I included a photo of her below (with her permission). I don't remember her name.

Goose Feathers Cafe and Bakery

In December, we had good luck stumbling upon a cafe -- Savannah Coffee Roasters, 215 W. Liberty St. -- for morning coffee and breakfast, but it was a bit longer of a walk from our lodge (close to Ellis Square) than we had wanted. Much closer to us was Goose Feathers Cafe and Bakery, 39 Barnard St., which was only two and a half blocks or so from the lodge.

I had the Barnard Street Club, a sandwich of ham, turkey, Swiss cheese, cucumber, mayo, tomato and Dijon mustard on a baguette, and I liked it a lot. Since I'd already had a cup of coffee in the room that morning, I asked for a glass of fresh lemonade, and it was delicious. Lee Ann had an egg and bacon croissant with a side order of potatoes wedges. She liked it a lot.

The Crystal Beer Parlor

On the afternoon we were in the gift shop of the Williams-Mercer House fronting Monterrey Square, we mentioned to the woman working the cash register that we were hungry and would like to find a place nearby for a late lunch. She recommended the Crystal Beer Parlor, 301 W. Jones St. I assumed she heard us say we wanted something nearby, but perhaps I didn't emphasize the nearby as well as I thought I did. Her directions to the eatery made it sound as if the place were right around the corner.

The walk there was probably three times as long as both Lee Ann and I had envisioned nearby to be. But once we got there, there was no reason not to go in (on principle, I mean. OK, and also because we were hungry).

I kind of messed up while at the Crystal Beer Parlor; I took a photo of my pint of craft draft IPA, but neglected to photograph our meals. I just spaced it. I remember I ordered one of the burgers, but I'm not sure what Lee Ann had (nor does she). Perhaps another time ...

St. Augustine

Salt Life Food Shack

We arrived in St. Augustine the afternoon of Feb. 2, and after checking into our resort in the World Golf community, we drove the 15 miles to and through the old city and headed to near St. Augustine Beach. There, we stopped at the Salt Life Food Shack, 321 AQA Beach Blvd., where we grabbed a late lunch.

We started with an appetizer of fried calamari and Shack Sauce. I followed that with a smoked wood-grilled salmon finished with a maple soy sauce served with brown rice (third photo below). It was very good. Lee Ann had the beach boil -- shrimp, snow crab legs, sausage, corn, onions and potatoes served in a bowl (penultimate photo below). She also liked her meal.

Instead of beer this time, I ordered a house special rum-based punch mixed drink. It down went far too fast ... and I thought it was a little light on the rum side (our server tried to tell me that it was actually heavy on rum, but I seriously doubted that). That's the drink at the bottom of this section. Oh yes ... I had two of them. Ahem. Lee Ann was driving.

The Columbia Restaurant

While walking the St. George Street commercial district on Feb. 3, our only full day in St. Augustine, we stopped at the Columbia Restaurant, 98 St. George St., known for its gorgeous decor and extensive Spanish cuisine.

Indeed, the decor of this place is amazing; I'm not sure my rushed photos do it justice. Between the arched entryways and openings and the distinctive murals and wall hangings, one could spend a bit of time just studying it all. 

When it came time for food, I ordered the original Cuban sandwich -- a mixture of ham, salami, "mojo-marinated" roast pork, Swiss cheese, pickle and mustard on fresh-baked Cuban bread brushed. The restaurant has a liberal side-order substitution policy, so instead of soup that normally comes with the sandwich, I substituted a small version of the eatery's signature 1905 salad -- a mix of icebrg lettuce with julienne of baked ham, natural Swiss cheese, tomato, olives, grated Romano cheese and garlic dressing -- all tossed at the table. Both sandwich and salad were divine. And the salad? Oh, yum! I'd go back there even to just get the salad as a full meal. 

Lee Ann ordered the "Pojo Riojana," a boneless breaded chicken breast grilled and topped with a rioja tomato sauce and melted Spanish Tetilla cheese served with yellow rice. She said it was very delicious ... and was particularly fond of the yellow rice.

To wash down the meal, I ordered a draft craft cerbeza (beer); Lee Ann tried the house sangria. We both liked our drinks.


Sunset Grille and Raw Bar

Since we came to Sunset Grille and Raw Bar, 7 Knights Blvd., and featured some pictures on our first visit in January 2017, I could have skipped this stop for this post. But there is so much decor ... and natural beauty right on the ocean, I felt it deserved a second look.

In 2017, on dumb luck, we stopped in on the eatery's Tuesday barbecue special night. My smoked prime rib was divine -- perhaps the best I'd ever had. When we returned this year, we knew were going back on a Tuesday, and we did. Problem this time was ... that I'd forgotten how I had ordered my prime rib cooked in 2017. 

Prime rib is a chancy meat for me; I normally order my steaks medium, and I'm usually quite satisfied with a little pink that medium brings. But for some reason, when professional kitchens cook prime rib ordered "medium," it still comes out all pink. So in recent years -- the few times I get it -- I usually order it medium well or even well done.

I'm sure I ordered the prime rib here medium well or well done last year ... but I forgot about that this year. I ordered it medium, and it came out much pinker redder than I'd like (see photo below). Lee Ann also ordered the prime rib; she had sampled mine last year and really liked it. She reacted the same way I did this time, but neither of us wanted to send it back for more heat. When we arrived for dinner, both of us were famished, so we ate it as is. We both had baked beans as our side.

Ormond Beach

The Black Sheep Pub

On the only occasion we dined out while in Ormond Beach, we took a recommendation from our concierge and stopped at the Black Sheep Pub and Eating House, 890 S. Atlantic Ave., largely because the concierge gave its fish and chips rave reviews. The entry for it on the menu touts the fact that it is "awarding winning," in fact.

Our server told us the fish is a swai -- a type of fish I'd never heard of before. It was prepared hand-battered and served with french fries. I will say that the concierge was correct; the fish was absolutely delicious. Lee Ann harkened to her liver and onions fave (except the Black Sheep's version also came with bacon, much to Lee Ann's delight), and that plate came with mashed potatoes.

I drank a pint of a local craft brew (I believe it was a cream ale), while Lee Ann had water.

Previous posts in this series: 

Savannah at night

Savannah in daylight