The restaurant is in a gorgeous 1900 mansion built by a wealthy cotton trader. Many of the orignal fittings have been retained throughout, and it is a most attractive setting. The dining room is split up to fit in with the layout of the house, so there are several sections. Some have wooden flooring, some are carpeted, and the decor is in keeping with the era when the house was originally built. There was an extensive and thoughtful wine list, with smart choices such as Newton unfiltered Chardonnay at around $85. There were plenty of options in the $40-$50 range e.g. Stephen Ross Edna Valley Chardonnay 2004 at $45.
A black-eyed pea patty was tasty and had a well-made tomato salsa with just enough bite to lift the dish, sitting on a small bed of green leaves (13/20). The tomato really tasted of tomato, which to be honest is a rare thing in American restaurants. Corn bread was pleasant if a little crumbly, and was offered with orange marmalade. A simple salad of beets was excellent, with fresh leaves, good beetroot, a little coriander and a simple vinaigrette showing off the high quality salad ingredients well (15/20).
I particularly enjoyed a dish of spicy red rice with local Georgia shrimps. These had good taste and were perfectly cooked, while the rice had clear, distinct grains. The dish had local clams and grouper, a little sausage and was garnished with okra, which was lightly cooked and avoided any hint of sliminess (15/20). I was able to try two variations on grits: one polenta-like, the other creamy. Anyone who had make grits edible has my undying admiration, and these were not just tolerable but actively enjoyable.
An apple crumble was pleasant but not in the league of the earlier dishes, served with a nice (though bought- in) vanilla ice cream (12/20). I should also mention that out in the kitchen I tasted a lovely amuse bouche of tuna on a crisp base, topped with a little avocado and gingered up with a lively spicy Vietnamese sauce; this was terrific and you would be happy to encounter something this good at a Michelin starred restaurant (17/20).
The southern menu varies and the thing that most came through about the cooking throughout was the emphasis on good local ingredients. Herbs are grown in the garden of the house. Chef Kelly Yambor (pictured) was enthusiastic and pleasingly unpretentious. As she told me, "southern fine dining" is usually considered an oxymoron, but not here. Owner Greg Butch was a kind and generous host who had real interest in the food and overall experience. This was easily the best food I ate in Savannah.