I was around eleven years old when I first visited Savannah, GA. I went with my family, back when I didn’t even know beer existed and car rides were much more fun because I wasn’t the driver. It was St. Patrick’s Day there, where I fell in love with crawfish -until I rubbed juice in my eye- and now makes me wonder why I ever thought the tall, felt, cat-in-the-hat – hats, were deemed “cool.”
Fourteen years later, I finally got to return to the historic city. The cobblestone streets flashed through my mind as we walked down by the river, and I realized these locals have taken care of their city. I didn’t remember all the tourist shops, or how you could ride an elevator four stories up and still find yourself to be street level. I didn’t know about the multitude of restaurants, bars, and eateries.
I thought about Urbanspoon-ing a good place to eat, but I wanted somewhere with eclectic food, lively people, and an upscale casual atmosphere. Naturally, I turned to twitter. I’d like to say a special thanks to VisitSavannah for giving me such great places to check out! Their suggestions went from home cooking and southern barbecue to historic staples and local’s favorites. After an hour of debating and looking at menus and locations, my friend and I decided on Vic’s on the River. It was an excellent decision.
We entered the restaurant from River St., but had to take an elevator up four levels to the main dining room. There’s also an entrance on Bay St., but it’s not as breathtaking as stepping off the elevator into such a beautiful large room with a lip-licking wine rack to your right and an elegant bar to your left. My eyes searched the room in excitement for my meal. It was the elegance I was searching for – tall vaulted ceilings, dijon-cream painted walls, black iron clad chandeliers hung from the ceiling, with similar candle holders on the wall. The bar sparkled, with a beautiful view of the river in the background. It was definitely a sight you don’t see in Brunswick, GA.
We were eating a late lunch, so the restaurant had great seating options. Past the bar and the small dining section was another dining room, with tables right next to the window, where we sat. When I go into a restaurant I like to observe everything about it. Here I loved the way the tables were set up. Each one had a base white linen with a black linen diagonal on top, white rolled cutlery, a bread and butter plate, and two empty water glasses. Simple, but elegant. Each table also had a small square-vase with a flower in it.
They hostess left a “Select Spirit’s & Wine” list on our table, and that’s where the journey really began. I could have sat there for two hours reading this book. Yes, it was like a book, and I loved it. It had a table of contents, a specialty martini list, a page full of all of their basic spirits (including 8 single malt scotches!), and the rest focused on wine and sparkling whites. There were pages of wines – everyone they had by the glass and the bottle, accompanied by a short description of the wine, its year, its price, and the region it came from. Put it this way, there were two full pages of descriptions of their Pinot Noir selection. I could have spent my whole meal educating myself on wine.
As with any meal, a cocktail is always suitable. I chose to start out with a Cherry Julep. It was Red Stag Black Cherry Bourbon, fresh mint, soda water, and a Rum float. There were also a few muddled cherries in it and it was delicious! My friend and foodie, SaltwaterChef decided on a Ginger Smash – Absolut, Ginger Liqueur, gingerale, and soda water. Also a great choice! I’m not a big fan of Ginger, but it was not overpowering at all and balanced very well.
If I wanted an after dinner-tini, I would have ordered their Lemon Cookie Martini! It’s a dessert martini with Ketel One Citron, Trader Vic’s Macadamia Nut Liqueur, and fresh lemon juice.
Picking an appetizer was just as controversial as picking out the restaurant. Three options caught our eyes. Classic Oyster’s Rockefeller, and Georgia Shrimp Bisque. The bisque really intrigued me with the thought of it being garnished with a Drambuie scented creme fraiche, but since we were sharing we decided against it. The Oyster’s Rockefeller were traditionally prepared with fresh spinach, smoked bacon, Sambvca, and topped with Asiago cheese, but the Crawfish Beignets won the vote.
They were light and delicious. The crust seemed like a pie crust or less flaky, but just as buttery, puff pastry. They were hot and golden and presented nicely on the plate. The dough to filling ratio was also great. I find most times people either use to much breading or too much filling, but these were fantastic. The Tabasco Syrup was the perfect sweet and spicy combination for the appetizer. It’s a must have!
Choosing a lunch entree was also a difficult decision between so many different sandwiches and entree plates. Not to mention there wasn’t any item over $14! That’s a deal for any decent day-off lunch. The menu ranged from a Southern Pasta Carbonara with English peas, bacon, gemelli, and a fried chicken breast to a Fried Green Tomato BLT with goat cheese, sun-dried tomato pesto on toasted Sourdough. The real eye catcher was the Fried Chicken Livers Sliders, accompanied with a creole coleslaw and lemon aioli on fresh baked yeast rolls, but they were out of chicken livers that day! I’ll have to try them next time I’m in Savannah.
For my entree I decided on Crab Stuffed Georgia Wild Shrimp. I had an idea of what to expect, and my expectations were exceeded. The plate came out gorgeous- 7 beautifully butterflied stuffed shrimp with lemon herb butter drizzled on top, slowly sinking in and around the shrimp. In the middle of the plate was a sweet corn rice pilaf, with asparagus -perfectly sautéed- on top. A small pinch of salt on the asparagus made for a delicious meal.
SaltwaterChef decided on the Crobb Salad for her lunch! It came over a bed of baby mixed greens with applewood smoked bacon, goat cheese, mango, tomatoes, cucumbers, and it normally comes with lump crab meat, but she substituted shrimp instead. The dressing was so differently delicious – a Creamy Citrus Vanilla Dressing, that SaltwaterChef described as “very light, not overbearingly citrusy, light undertones of vanilla- more of an aromatic than a flavor, and it tastes great with the bacon.”
Did I mention the service was spectacular? Our service professional, Robert, was very knowledgable not only about the menu but also about the restaurant and wine. Turns out, there are two other floors that the restaurant accommodates. The floor below the dining room, The Dieter’s Den, can hold private parties for up to 40 people, and the banquet room above the dining room can hold private events for up to 150 people.
I wanted to finish my meal off with a nice glass of wine, so Robert suggested a glass of what I believe was Malakoff, a Shiraz-Viognier blend. It was smooth and a delicious way to end our two-hour lunch event. Vic’s on the River was a winner, and I can’t wait to go back for dinner! Thanks again @VisitSavannah for such a great recommendation!
Here are a few more pictures from the inside of Vic’s and the wonderful view from the dining room.