Trip Report: Savannah, GA (June, 2013) Day 1: 6:00 p.m. The Olde Pink House

Dinner reservations for our first night in Savannah were made at The Olde Pink House. Considered by many to be one of the best restaurants in Savannah (#8 of 403 restaurants in the city on TripAdvisor), it was the one restaurant I had definite plans to visit before we even left for our trip. There is a lot of history to this 18th century mansion, which has been used as a home, a bank, headquarters for the Union General, and now a restaurant.

Located in Reynolds Square, parking can be found on local streets or in the garage at the square. Since I was staying at the Planter’s Inn next door, I walked. This building is also a popular stop on ghost tours, as the original owner, James Habersham supposedly hanged himself in the basement in 1799 and is said to roam around the house at times.

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The Olde Pink House

We were seated in the first room on the right, at the table by the window also on the right. The interior is set up to match the time in history when many of Savannah’s buildings were erected, in the 18th and 19th centuries.

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Dining Room

The other side of the room featured some of the wall decorations with antique looking portraits from the time period.

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Other Side of Room

The room next to ours had a much darker color scheme. Off to the left outside of the photo was a beautiful fireplace. I don’t know if it’s ever used in the winter, but either way it creates a cozy feel. Once again the old photos, candle holder, and chandelier all keep the inside looking like you stepped back 200 years.

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Second Dining Room

The menu was tough to choose from. I saw many options that I would love to try. We passed on the expensive platters at the top. I was worried they would fill us up too much to enjoy the wide variety of foods that we always like to sample.

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Dinner Menu

The bread basket was brought out, and we were already impressed with the selection. It contained a salted rosemary yeast roll, two corn bread muffins, and two honey biscuits.

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Bread Basket

I had the yeast roll. I used plenty of butter to coat each bite. The rosemary and salt really emerged as strong flavors throughout.

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Yeast Roll

The corn bread was perfect! Soft, moist, and buttery, I can’t see anything I’d change about it. This was a welcome change over  corn breads we have tried recently.

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Corn Bread

The biggest surprise for my wife (yes, she was eating a little gluten tonight) were the honey biscuits. The entire biscuit tasted like a mix of honey and buttermilk biscuit.

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Honey Biscuit

There was no honey on top, just throughout the whole thing as a main ingredient. They were crispy and flavorful. I added no butter to mine as it had a fantastic taste on its own.

Rating for entire bread basket: 7/10

My wife started with the $7.95 Mac and Cheese Jalapeño Poppers, with Red Pepper Coulis, and Salsa Verde.

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Mac and Cheese Jalapeño Poppers

The three fried balls looked similar to hush puppies in size and texture on the outside. You can see the jalapeños under the crispy outer layer, and a few drops of cheese oozing through. They sat in a puddle of green salsa with the coulis drizzled within the salsa.

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Closeup of Poppers

Cutting them open, the jalapeño mac and cheese poured out. Mac and cheese, an American favorite, is really a new taste when you add jalapeños and a fried coating over the top.

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Inside the Poppers

I tried a small bite, but didn’t get the full effect of all flavors. My wife said they were nothing special, but enjoyed them and found it to be something different from the norm, which is what we look for when trying new places. She mentioned the jalapeño spice was there, but it wasn’t too hot.

I have had calamari many times before, but wanted to see what a more fine dining experience might offer. This $8.95 appetizer was listed simply as Fried Calamari, and a Duo of Dipping Sauces.

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Fried Calamari

The calamari looked very much like it would at any other place. I supposed there’s not much different you can do when frying calamari. In the end it’ll all look similar, so the seasoning, and in this case the dipping sauces, are where you’ll find some changes.

The first sauce shown here is an Apricot Shallot Glaze. The other sauce’s closeup photo came out blurry so I couldn’t show it other than in the previous shot, but it was a Jalapeño Aioli.

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Apricot Shallot Glaze

Since I’m overly sensitive when it comes to spicy food, I said immediately that was was going to stick with the apricot glaze. The server mentioned that the aioli was actually the less spicy sauce. I dipped my fork in the green concoction and tapped it on my tongue. Not bad at all. I tried the apricot glaze, and sure enough it actually had a little more of a kick, but still not enough to bother me. I ended up finishing both sauces and each added a unique change of taste to a familiar food that I’ve had many times.

The aioli I believe was muted by the egg yolk or oil in the sauce, and it had that expected mayo texture that gripped the squid when it was dipped. The apricot glaze had a nice sweet fruit flavor that contrasted well with the onion and other ingredient that was bringing the spice.

Rating: 6/10

My second appetizer were the BBQ Chicken Sliders with “Cheerwine®” Barbecue Sauce, Vegetable Slaw, and Bread & Butter Pickles.

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BBQ Chicken Sliders

The chicken was very tender and fully coated in barbecue sauce. The “Cheerwine®” in the title comes from the unique way this chef creates his barbecue sauce. It’s actually made from Cheerwine® soda, giving it a cherry flavor. The sugar of course comes from the soda, and the more liquid base allows it to soak into the chicken much more efficiently than a standard barbecue. This allows each piece to have the full flavor of the sauce.

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Chicken

The slaw was your typical shredded vegetables, with just enough quantity to add a slight crunch to the slider.

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Slaw

The buns were heated just enough to begin charring the inside, but overall the remainder was kept very soft. This was a standard store bought bun from a bag.

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Buns

The bread & butter pickles went unnoticed until I had finished my first of the two sliders. I then ate one and placed the remaining pickle on the second slider.

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Bread & Butter Pickles

The $7.95 sliders as a whole were good and I liked the taste, but even with this special barbecue sauce they really were not very memorable.

Rating: 6/10

My wife tried the Filet Mignon with Green Peppercorn Demi Glace, Twice Baked Potato, and Asparagus. The entrée was $31.95 and it carried its value in every bite. Presentation was great, in fact it was already set up for photographing, as if they knew…

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Filet Mignon Dish

The filet was unbelievably tender inside. Upon the initial cut, my wife showed me how she didn’t need the knife and proceeded to tear the meat apart with just the fork. Don’t worry, she didn’t shred the entire filet, it was just the initial cut to show me how well it was cooked. I had several bites, and I was very impressed. Not only did the meat practically melt in my mouth, but there was something else I never taste in other filets. I could taste the char marks that were created when this steak was obviously cooked on an open flame grill.

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Open Flame Cooked Filet

As much as other restaurants may promote cooking over an open flame, I can’t remember a time when I’ve noticed the marks created by this process. It was like a steak cooked at home on the grill, only it was the coveted filet mignon, not your every day grocery store flank steak. I was trying to move away from the filets since I get them every time I go out, but this is one item I will have to order when I come back.

Rating: 9/10

The twice baked potato was a new treat that I’m not sure I’ve had before. My wife only managed to eat about a quarter of it and required me to finish the rest. Oh well, it’s a tough job I have.

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Twice Baked Potato

The second baking gave the potato a sort of a crust on the outside. That slight crunch worked well with the softer innards. I could see some green herb mixed in with the potato I’m not sure what it was. The general taste of the potato left me with no complaints. The potato skin was cooked as thoroughly as it could be without being burned. It was crispy and a little tough to cut, but once I managed to get bite sized pieces, they were easily chewed and I was very satisfied with the chef’s final product.

Rating: 7.5/10

Another $36.95 disappears as my order of Crab Stuffed Black Grouper with White Wine Lemon Sauce was delivered to the table, with a side of Mashed Potatoes and Mixed Beans.

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Crab Stuffed Black Grouper

This smaller portion of grouper sat on the bed of beans and potato. The fish was fully coated in the lemon sauce. It was cooked well and was nowhere near dry. The white wine lemon sauce was a solid match with a fish plate. Lemon, white wine, and the visible minced garlic in the sauce are all flavors that blend very well with essentially all fish. The more viscous texture allowed it to stick to the food rather than pool up on the bottom of the plate.

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Grouper

Cutting in I found a copious amount of crab inside. It was enough to almost delete the taste of the grouper. The combination of the two seafoods was an interesting taste that I’m not sure I’ve tried before.

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Crab Stuffing

There were a lot of other ingredients I could see in the crab, making it look more like a crab salad. Whatever else was included, it kept the texture smooth and created a new flavor other than pure crab.

The mixed beans consisted of three types: edamame, green beans, and snap peas. They were very fresh and crispy, almost in raw form. That’s my favorite way to enjoy beans. The closer to raw, the better the texture and also the more healthy they are, not that that will make a difference in a few minutes when I order dessert.

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Beans

The potatoes were unexciting. I didn’t notice any seasoning that changed these from anything other than just plain mashed potatoes.

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Mashed Potatoes

The plate as a whole was just average. The main portion was unique and I enjoyed a new creation but the potatoes and beans, while cooked well, were nothing special.

Rating: 5.5/10

The dessert menu was brought out. I had read about their Praline Basket being a popular item and had already decided on choosing that. I was tempted to pick the Key Lime Pie, but that’s always a tough choice when it’s available at so many places. I reluctantly passed on the Key Lime Pie and the Chocolate Layer Cake, another tough decision for this chocolate lover.

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Dessert Menu

My wife decided on the $6 Pecan Pie. I thought the presentation was fantastic. It looked absolutely delicious.

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Pecan Pie

Served with vanilla bean ice cream, everything on the plate from the ice cream to the pie, and even the whipped cream had chocolate fudge drizzled over it. This wasn’t your cheap Hershey’s® syrup, this was a thick fudge that didn’t flow after being cooled. It was about the consistency of cream cheese.

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Ice Cream with Chocolate Drizzle

The pie was served hot. It was soft, sweet, and the chocolate fudge drizzle had melted into a liquid topping that soaked into the pie giving it a chocolate undertone. There were large chunks of pecans throughout, of course by this point they were candied pecans with the sugary pie filling coating each one. My wife commented that this pie wasn’t overly sweet like most pies made with the typical karo syrups. She felt this may have been made using real ingredients, giving it a genuine flavor that wasn’t over the top sweet the way most products in this country usually end up. The crust had a full flavor of cinnamon and chocolate, with a slightly more chewy texture.

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Pie Details

For those that love the hot and cold combo in their desserts, this is your choice. I’m not even a big fan of pecan pie, but the quarter I was required to finish by by wife was very enjoyable.

The whipped cream of course was real. Not only that but completely homemade (restaurant made? I’m sure the chef didn’t make it at home and then bring it to work in a Tupperware dish). It was lacking in the typical amount of sugar that the common canned products have, but I believe it was the right decision as the pie had more than enough sweetness that it wasn’t needed in the whipped cream.

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Whipped Cream

This allowed the flavor of actual cream to be added to the pie bites instead of just adding sugar flavor. It’s something I’d forgotten the taste of over time.

Rating: 7.5/10

As I said, the Praline Basket is a popular item here and I knew before arriving that I would order it (I do my research). I was utterly surprised when the $8 plate was put in front of me and what I found was not a basket of pralines, but an actual praline basket.

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Praline Basket

Yes, a basket made out of pralines. What a novel idea! Extra points on the idea and the fabulous presentation. A very colorful display.

Inside this praline basket was my vanilla bean ice cream. It was like a shortened ice cream cone, except dish shaped. Just as with the pie, the ice cream was a great flavor that was even more enhanced by the main item. The praline basket was a wonderful crispy texture that worked amazingly well with the soft ice cream. The sugary praline also added the additional sweetness that wasn’t needed in the ice cream but at the same time didn’t hurt it.

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Basket Contents

The ice cream was topped with a mango citrus purée. I found I had to put just the purée on my fork to get a solid taste. While it may not have jumped out when eaten with the other items, I’m sure the flavor is blended in the background and adds to the overall tone of each bite.

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Mango Citrus Purée

Like the pie, my dessert also came with their homemade whipped cream, a sprig of fresh mint, and a drizzling of chocolate fudge on the plate.

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Berry Covered Cream

The entire basket was covered in berries so fresh I wouldn’t be surprised to learn they were picked minutes before being placed on the ice cream. They were bright and firm. The added berry flavor to the already strong vanilla and praline flavored ice cream was the crowning peak to this amazing treat.

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Berries

I have to say I really was impressed. Very unique, delicious, and fresh. A must order item next time I’m in Savannah.

Rating: 10/10

I finished my dinner with the $7 Chocolate Oblivion Torte. Another excellent presentation with a clean plate topped by a dark (as in color, not the type) chocolate torte, white whipped cream, green mint, and red and purple berries.

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Chocolate Oblivion Torte

Rather than just whipped cream on the side, this also had the cream dolloped on top, with a few berries to create a satisfying chocolate, cream, and berry flavor.

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Torte Toppers

The side of whipped cream was exactly the same as the other two desserts. Homemade, with a fresh mint sprig and a half strawberry.

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The Real Deal

The torte actually surprised me. I was expecting a more mousse-like texture, and was surprised to cut into a much stiffer substance. The chocolate was closer to the texture of fudge that had been just slightly warmed. It tasted of almost pure chocolate, which was a treat for me. The chocolate sat on top of a graham cracker crust very similar to what you’d find with a cheesecake.

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Torte Cross Section

A second fantastically surprising dessert that ended this meal on a high note. The desserts stood way above the appetizers and entrées, and even if I were to not have a meal here again, I’d make sure to stop by and get a few desserts to go. As time has gone by with me trying so many foods, I’ve found that my standards for a good dessert have gone up. These two (maybe even three with the pecan pie) have kept the bar high.

Rating: 9/10

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