Today was Linda's 47th birthday, and we wanted to do something special in Savannah although we had no idea what.
We looked at various tours, and I scoured the restaurant listings and ratings for the perfect combination of good food, ambiance, romance, and fun. And with some nice birthday cash from family, we were up for a splurge. :)
Linda couldn't find a tour she liked, so we settled on just having a nice dinner. I chose a spot and made reservations for 5:00 which would give us plenty of time to explore downtown in the evening if we so desired.
But before that, Kathy & David took us on a bike ride through The Landings, the large 5,000-homesite planned community that covers most of Skidaway Island. It's a gated community with six golf courses, two marinas, and over 40 miles of paved walking/biking/golf cart trails.
They took us on quite a tour past the stately homes and ponds and marshes and golf courses to one of the marinas. I didn't take my camera, but we saw much more wildlife than we had seen at the state park. :)
I think we covered about 10 miles and it was a good thing we got all that exercise 'cause most of the rest of this entry is about food. :)
Back home Linda gave me a much needed haircut on this overcast day in which the temps managed to reach the 50s. Then we got our showers and prepared for our night out.
We drove into downtown Savannah and parked at the parking garage where we were the other day for our Civil War walking tour. It happened to be right next to The Olde Pink House where I had made reservations.
The Olde Pink House is located on Reynolds Square at the corner of Abercorn and Bryan Street and is a favorite of tourists and locals.
The menu is fine dining in a "low country", southern sort of way, but there is no dress code. We were told to come "comfortable" and since comfortable is basically all we have, that fit the bill. :)
We arrived more than an hour before our reservation time. I thought we might enjoy a drink and an appetizer in the Planter's Tavern in the house's lower level, but it didn't open until 5:00. No worries. There is another bar, the Arches Bar around the corner, also located in The Olde Pink House.
So we settled in there and our bartender, Eric, helped with drink selections. I went with my favorite Kentucky Bourbon, Woodford Reserve, and Eric let Linda sample a Pinot Noir from Bourgogne, France. It just took that sample and Linda had her wine for the evening.
The bar menu was the same as the appetizer menu for the main restaurant, and Eric highly recommended the shrimp & grits. Actually, it's a bit fancier than that - "Sauteed Local Shrimp with Country Ham Gravy & Cheddar Cheese Grits Cake".
We're not fans of grits, but Eric was very convincing and that's what we ordered.
While we waited, Eric gave us a history sheet on The Olde Pink House.
The home was constructed in 1771 for James Habersham, Jr. It was built with red clay bricks and covered with a white plaster. Over time, the red of the bricks bled through giving the home a pink hue. Now they just paint it that color. :)
Mr. Habersham reportedly hung himself in the basement in 1799, and apparently has stuck around adding to the paranormal lore of Savannah. We were told we might see a gentleman in colonial attire as we went through the house. :)
In 1811, the Habersham House became the Planter's Bank, the first registered bank in Georgia. It housed all the colonists money and the cast-iron vaults in the lower level are now used as wine cellars.
During the Civil War, after Sherman took Savannah, General York set up headquarters in the pink mansion.
After our history lesson, our appetizer arrived.
Wow. Shrimp and little strips of tasso ham on a cheese grit cake swimming in country ham gravy.
Weight Watchers allows us a bunch of extra points each week, and tonight we were gonna use them all. :)
Okay, so Eric didn't steer us wrong. That was delicious! Linda, who absolutely hates brussel sprouts, said "Pour that gravy on some brussel sprouts, and I would happily eat them."
Soon, it was time to go upstairs for our dinner reservation. Linda carried her glass of wine, and we were seated in a large dining room on the second floor next to a Christmas tree and fireplace.
This section is actually a recent addition, but it still held the charm of the house.
The walls were covered in hand-painted murals in muted colors depicting the southern landscapes.
Other rooms were smaller with more wood and period antiques. I believe they all had fireplaces.
The service throughout The Olde Pink House was superb. They have lots of staff and they all greeted us politely. Our server, Kiya, took very good care of us and was helpful with recommendations.
One of the specials tonight was a Lobster Pot Pie using the meat of a 1-pound lobster. That sounded wonderful, but too rich ... even for us. :)
We asked if we could split an entree and she said it would be no problem. When asked about a second, smaller portion entree, Kiya suggested that we order that, split it and have it before the main entree. Excellent suggestion.
Okay, so here we go. We ordered the "Caramelized Vidalia Onion & Sweet Potato Ravioli with Savory Pecan Cream Sauce".
The greenery is a fried sage leaf which added a very unique touch of flavor.
Is your mouth watering yet? :)
Funny aside. After being on Weight Watchers for ten weeks, our eyes were wide and we were loving our "foodie" adventure. Well, as the above dish arrived, the piped-in Christmas music played .... the "Hallelujah Chorus". :)
Linda, on her second glass of wine, bless her heart, was laughing so hard, she was crying. It was probably a "guess you had to be there" moment, but it was quite amusing to us at the time. :)
While waiting for the next entree, we split a warm corn muffin and I undulged in a warm yeast role with honey butter. Somehow, we managed to leave the small, warm buttermilk biscuits in the basket. :)
Right on time, our second entree arrived, just like the prior selection, split on two plates as requested. This was the "Crispy Fried Lobster Tails with Sweet Chili Dijon, Bacon Buttermilk Whipped Potatoes, and Butter Beans".
It seemed like a rather odd combination, but certainly a southern way to serve lobster. :) The sides were good, but it was the Chili Sauce with a little bite that made the lobster pop. Honestly, after the flavors from the shrimp and grits and the ravioli earlier, this entree, while delicious seemed almost boring. :)
What a wonderful meal. And, I think this was the most laid-back fine dining experience we've ever had. No dress code, polite, helpful staff, no problem splitting meals and making substitutions. It was all very unpretentious and relaxing.
We hung out in the dining room for quite awhile watching the arriving plates of guests around us wondering how each dish tasted. If there had been a "Chef's Sampler" dish, we would've ordered it. :)
Linda had some coffee and we got a dessert preview from Kiya. We decided to finish the evening in the basement at the Planter's Tavern where we could sit around the fire, listen to the live music, and have dessert.
Linda took her coffee with her, and we boarded the elevator for our descent to the tavern.
Planter's Tavern is dark and quaint and even more laid back than the main restaurant upstairs. You can access the tavern from the street and locals often choose it for dinner. It has the same menu, but reservations aren't necessary and it's first come, first served for a table.
We were lucky enough to find a couple of chairs in front of the fireplace next to the piano.
And there we sat for over three hours meeting and greeting and laughing with other folks from all over. Any thoughts of walking around the city went right out the window. We had a ball right there.
We met so many people, I won't try to remember all the names. We met a couple from New York City that, like us in our past life, decided to travel for Christmas rather than do the gift thing. They were about our age with no children, and we enjoyed chatting with them until it was time for their dinner reservation upstairs.
Then, another couple moved to the sofa. They were from Daytona Beach and were celebrating their 28th wedding anniversary. And since his mother had never been to Savannah, they invited her along.
That's Helen in the black jacket next to Linda. We all hit it off and talked for quite awhile.
Linda & I finally ordered dessert and a couple of glasses of Bailey's Irish Cream.
Dessert was an edible "Praline Basket filled with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and topped with a Mango Puree and Fresh Berries".
Another fantastic dish just the right size for splitting. :)
Now, unbeknownst to us at first, dear Helen picked up the tab for her "kids" and also for our dessert and drinks for Linda's birthday. What a sweetheart. :)
The next couple that joined us, on the left below, had just gotten engaged in one of the squares in downtown. :)
She was quite happy to know that the couple on the sofa was celebrating their 28th anniversary and we will be celebrating our 25th next year. :)
With anniveraries and birthdays and engagements, we were all congratulating each other all over the place. We even played a little "Which celebrity do you look like?" - a spontaneous party game that Linda sometimes gets started.
And we were doing the "hugs & handshakes" thing with these people we barely knew as they went on their way. Before Helen's group left, her son, Tom, I believe, took our picture by the fireplace.
During all of this, Downie Mosley, played his repertoire of Christmas tunes and classics. Downie played with Liberace in the 1970s and was quite the eccentric character. Linda joined him and provided some harmony for a song.
And once he knew it was Linda's birthday, he sang "Happy Birthday" to her. :)
Soon thereafter, more couples came in and joined us around the fire. A young couple from Phoenix also just got engaged today in one of the town's squares. Love was in the air. :)
We got to know another couple from Orlando - they were a hoot and she said to Linda "You radiate joy". Indeed. :)
Eventually, the new faces stopped arriving and Linda's rosie cheeks were sore from laughing. We finally called it a night.
What a wonderfully memorable experience for so many reasons. Just our opinion, but if you are in Savannah and looking for a great meal and to splurge a little, The Olde Pink House is certainly an excellent choice. And if we're in the area, we'll be happy to join you. :)