Courtesy of Karen Anesi
A week ago I dined at Paula Deenís restaurant in Savannah, Georgia. Thatís what I call Lady and Sons, arguably Savannahís best-known culinary landmark. The last time I went to Savannah, I saw the brunch line wind its way around the corner for two city blocks, so this time I made a reservation well in advance.
I was part of a private party, but I still had several dining choices, so I went for Deenís butter-rich classics, mostly comfort food that I associate with the South.
The first course, a bowl of she-crab soup, was an outstanding appetizer before a classic Caesar salad. It was the second bowl of she-crab soup Iíd had in three days. The one at the Westin Resort, the conference hotel where I stayed, was equally good. Being the Yankee I am, itís hard for me to say if these were the gold standard, but they ranked high nonetheless.
Iím still wondering if thereís a he-crab soup thatís less crabby. Or if thereís a super crabby she-crab soup that comes with a sign: ďIím out of estrogen and I have a gun.Ē (Incidentally, thatís the holiday T-shirt I want to wear this Christmas, but I need someone to craft it for me. Using sequins, of course.)
Back to the meal. Much is made of biscuits being light or airy or buttery or all of the above. Iím no biscuit maker, but again, the one that sat on top of a johnny cake I nibbled at between courses was great, too.
I couldnít seem to get the waiterís attention to ask what the deal was with the pancake. I noticed the woman sitting next to me poured syrup on hers and ate it daintily with a fork. I tore mine apart in Ĺ-inch increments, got impatient, then ate it whole, before my salad arrived. It was fabulous.
Bread followed by bread. My kind of meal.
Given the choice between poultry and fish or seafood, Iíll go for whatever gets pulled from the ocean every time. I had tilapia on rice with crab butter that was classic Paula Deen.
I was intrigued by another meal at my table: an exquisitely presented chicken pot pie that was deep dish and covered by a basket-weave blanket of puff pastry. It must have been wonderful, but had I chosen the perfect trifecta Ė bread followed by bread and more bread Ė I would not have been able to walk to the water taxi that took us back to the hotel. The tilapia was as good as the preceding courses.
There were several choices for dessert. I selected one that I could take back to my room and enjoy the next morning with coffee. For me, thatís the best way to enjoy dessert Ė when it can stand on its own, showcased against a good cup of morning brew. I chose the peach cobbler, given that I was in the Peach State. It was OK, but not great.
I didnít see or hear Paula ďYíalliníĒ in the background. Come to think of it, her sons werenít there, either.
Iíll bet she never puts on a T-shirt tipping diners sheís packing a .357 Magnum. She just kills you with butter. And you drop to the ground with a smile.